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Baiji Dolphin Essay

704 words - 3 pages

Hidden in the murky waters of the Yangtze River in China dwells an ancient species of dolphin unchanged by 20 million years of evolution. The Baiji Dolphin is the most endangered Cetacean in the world. The Baiji has a very long, narrow beak, with abrupt forehead and tiny eyes set high on the sides of the head. The triangular dorsal fin has a blunt peak. They are blue-grey in color, fading to white below. They grow to lengths up to 8 ft. and can weigh 200 lbs. The Baiji hunt for small fish in the river but it has been becoming increasingly difficult because of pollution in the water.Once considered as a protective goddess of the Yangtze and cherished in ancient myths as a galloping white horse capable of flying across lakes and rivers, there now may be fewer than 30 Chinese River Dolphins left in existence. Today on the riverside towns are rapidly growing into cities as Beijing spreads the wealth of China's prosperous eastern seaboard inland ...view middle of the document...

Boat traffic gives off the deafening noise of boat engines which confuses the animals, leaving them unable to navigate and avoid collisions with boat propellers. River dredging using dynamite has killed many dolphins, fishing techniques using electric shock have electrocuted them. Hook lines which snag fish along the river bottom have also drowned Baiji. There are few dolphin left scattered over the river that they simply cannot find one another so their need to swim in groups of 3-4 dolphins are compromised.Scientific and public interest in the Baiji began to develop in1978, Western scientists encouraged the study of the Baiji, which was known to be the world's most endangered dolphin, discovered that the Chinese knew little of this precious animal. Consequently the government quickly formed a river dolphin research groups with scientists from Chinese Academy of Sciences: Institute of Hydrobiology, and Nanjing Normal University to study Baiji behavior, physiology and ecology; and to conduct a census and evaluate the dolphin's chances of survival in the Yangtze. During the following decade, provincial and central government bureaus passed conservation laws which designated the Baiji as a "Protected Animal of the First Order". Although many laws were passed to conserve the Baiji many are not being enforced because of the large impact it would have on the Chinas economy, the Yangtze river is a main water way and many cities are built on it. Currently the Baiji is poised at the brink of extinction, warning us of the earth's diminishing biodiversity.During the 1980s, Nanjing Normal University built a modern oceanarium complex and established a reserve in a 200m by 1.5 km channel through an island near Tongling on the lower reaches of the Yangtze. In an unusual show of grass-roots public support, townspeople rallied in support of Baiji conservation. Shortly thereafter the Institute of Hydrobiology in Wuhan opened a research and captive breeding oceanarium on the middle reaches of the river, which was funded in part by the Japanese government. Meanwhile farther upriver in the countryside, a "semi-natural" reserve was established.Today in this reserve several Baiji live and are doing well, and hopefully we will soon be able to restore their population.

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