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Chinese River Dolphin

Chinese River Dolphin
Scientific classification
Binomial name
Lipotes vexillifer

The Chinese River Dolphin, or Baiji (白鱀 Pinyin: bai1 ji4) (Lipotes vexillifer) is a freshwater dolphin found only in the Yangtze River in China. It is the only member of its genus. Other names for it include Beiji, Pai-c'hi (Wade-Giles), Whitefin Dolphin, Whiteflag Dolphin, Yangtze Dolphin, and Yangtze River Dolphin. It is nicknamed "the Goddess of the Yangtze River" (長江女神) in China.

Table of contents
1 Early history
2 The chronology of the species' rapid decline
3 Wuhan Baiji Dolphin Preservation Foundation
4 See also
5 External links

Early history

Fossil records indicate that the dolphins migrated from the Pacific to Yangtze River 20,000 years ago. The dolphins are described during the Han Dynasty in a biological encyclopedia, Erya (《爾雅》). It is estimated that there were 5,000 Baijis at that time. In 1978, the Chinese Academy of Sciences established the Freshwater Dolphin Research Centre (淡水海豚研究中心) as a branch of the Wuhan Institute of Hydrobiology (武汉水生生物研究所).

The chronology of the species' rapid decline

Its current population is difficult to estimate, but it is thought that there are at least thirteen individuals still alive. Needless to say, that is an extremely low number and it is therefore thought to be the world's most endangered cetacean. A captive specimen, a male named Qiqi (淇淇), was located at the Wuhan Institute of Hydrobiology from 1980 to July 14, 2002. Qiqi was discovered by a fisherman in Dongting Lake, and later became the sole resident of Baiji Dolphin Aquarium (白鱀豚水族馆) beside Eastern Lake (东湖). There was a later captive, which died after living a year (1996 to 1997) in the Shishou Semi-natural Baiji Dolphin Sanctuary (石首半自然白鱀豚保护区) that had been empty since 1990. A female was found in Chongming Island (崇明岛) in Shanghai Municipality in 1998, but she did not eat any provided food and starved to death within a month.

Wuhan Baiji Dolphin Preservation Foundation

The Wuhan Baiji Dolphin Preservation Foundation (武汉白鱀豚保护基金), the first Chinese aquatic species protection organization, was founded in December 1996. The Foundation has gathered 1,383,924.35 CNY (about 10,034.02 USD) and have spent the financial resources on in vitro cell preservation and maintenance of the Baiji facilities, including the 1998-flooded Shishou Sanctuary.

See also

External links