Thursday, December 21, 2006

Yangtze River dolphin is officially extinct according to experts

A rare white dolphin that survived for 20 million years is effectively extinct, an international expedition declared Wednesday after ending a six-week search of its Yangtze River habitat.
The dolphin, called the baiji, would be the first large aquatic mammal driven to extinction since hunting and overfishing killed off the Caribbean monk seal in the 1950s.

For the baiji, the culprit was a degraded habitat: busy ship traffic, which confounds the sonar the dolphin uses to find food, and overfishing and pollution in the Yangtze, the expedition said. About 400 baiji were thought to have been living in the river in the early 1980s.

"The baiji is functionally extinct. We might have missed one or two animals, but it won't survive in the wild," said August Pfluger, a Swiss economist- turned-naturalist who helped put together the expedition. "We are all incredibly sad."

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"