I have to say, this extinct animal is the closest to my heart. When I heard that it had gone extinct, I cried. I'm saying that unashamedly now, but really, in 2007, it affected me that deeply that an entire species has disappeared, and only through our actions. And I would still cry now, if I heard it. The baiji dolphin lived only in the Yangtze. However, through recent years, the longest river in Asia, and third longest in the world, has become more and more polluted through human activities. The lakes dried up. Water became filthy. This once pristine river, the domain of the emperor's barges, is now- well, I'll let the picture say it all. How could the baiji river dolphin, partially blind, and sometimes called the Goddess of the Yangtze survive? A traditional Chinese folktale believes the baiji to be the reincarnation of a princess who drowned herself when her family forced her to marry someone she didn't love. The baiji's white skin is valued for handbags. In the 1950s itself, its population was estimated at only 5,000 individuals. Finally, in 2006, a research expedition from the Baiji Foundation traveled the 2,000 miles of the Yangtze river with all sorts of fancy equipment and couldn't find a single specimen. They declared this beautiful white dolphin functionally extinct. That means that even if a few individuals were left, as they probably were, they were either too old or too few or too far apart to regrow the population. In 2007 a businessman reported a video of a large white creature that was later confirmed to be a baiji. However, as I said previously, there are probably too few individuals left. A whole species is about to disappear, has disappeared, or something like that. No one can know for sure.
There might not be hope for the baiji dolphin, but that doesn't mean hope should be given up. There's another unique cetacean of the Yangtze: the finless porpoise. Let's not be too late this time. If we all work at it, let's make sure that the Yangtze river is not robbed of yet another priceless treasure.
The Glasswing Butterfly