Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Yangtze porpoise following Yangtze dolphin into extinction?

Troubled times for endangered Yangtze finless porpoise

November 2012. A research expedition underway on the Yangtze is looking to discover how many of the world's only freshwater finless porpoises can be found in the river - and how to save the remaining population from extinction.

Fewer than 1800 left alive
The endangered Yangtze finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides asiaeorientalis), which numbers fewer than 1,800 in the wild, lives mainly in the central and lower reaches of the 6300km Yangtze River and two large adjoining lakes, Dongting and Poyang.

Is it going the same way as the extinct Yangtze dolphin?
Led by China's Ministry of Agriculture and organized by the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Hydrobiology (IHB) and WWF, the expedition comes only six years after the Baiji dolphin - another rare cetacean and close relative of the finless porpoise - was declared functionally extinct after a similar Yangtze survey that also looked at porpoise numbers.

"We are not optimistic about the estimated results in the mainstream investigation at this moment," said Wang Ding general director of both the 2006 and 2012 investigations and Research Fellow at the IHB. "But in addition to the numbers and distribution of the population of Yangtze finless porpoises, we will also investigate the fishery resources and water quality of the Yangtze River."

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