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SilverCougar

Scientist: Rare Chinese Dolphin Extinct

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http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/12/13/...tr=HOME_2253676

(AP) An expedition searching for a rare Yangtze River dolphin ended Wednesday without a single sighting and with the team's leader saying one of the world's oldest species was effectively extinct.

The white dolphin known as baiji, shy and nearly blind, dates back some 20 million years. Its disappearance is believed to be the first time in a half-century, since hunting killed off the Caribbean monk seal, that a large aquatic mammal has been driven to extinction.

A few baiji may still exist in their native Yangtze habitat in eastern China but not in sufficient numbers to breed and ward off extinction, said August Pfluger, the Swiss co-leader of the joint Chinese-foreign expedition.

"We have to accept the fact that the Baiji is functionally extinct. We lost the race," Pfluger said in a statement released by the expedition. "It is a tragedy, a loss not only for China, but for the entire world. We are all incredibly sad."

Overfishing and shipping traffic, whose engines interfere with the sonar the baiji uses to navigate and feed, are likely the main reasons for the mammal's declining numbers, Pfluger said. Though the Yangtze is polluted, water samples taken by the expedition every 30 miles did not show high concentrations of toxic substances, the statement said.

For nearly six weeks, Pfluger's team of 30 scientists scoured a 1,000-mile heavily trafficked stretch of the Yangtze, where the baiji once thrived. The expedition's two boats, equipped with high-tech binoculars and underwater microphones, trailed each other an hour apart without radio contact so that a sighting by one vessel would not prejudice the other.

Around 400 baiji were believed to be living in the Yangtze in the 1980s. The last full-fledged search, in 1997, yielded 13 confirmed sightings, and a fisherman claimed to have seen a baiji in 2004, Pfluger said in an earlier interview.

At least 20 to 25 baiji would now be needed to give the species a chance to survive, the group's statement said, citing Wang Ding, a hydrobiologist and China's foremost campaigner for the baiji.

Pfluger, an economist by training who later went to work for an environmental group, was a member of the 1997 expedition and recalls the excitement of seeing a baiji cavorting in the waters near Dongting Lake.

"It marked me," he said in an interview Monday. He went on to set up the baiji.org Foundation to save the dolphin.

That goal having evaporated, Pfluger said his foundation would turn to teaching sustainable fishing practices and trying to save other freshwater dolphins. The expedition also surveyed one of those dwindling species, the Yangtze finless porpoise, finding less than 400 of them.

"The situation of the finless porpoise is just like that of the baiji 20 years ago," Wang, the Chinese scientist, said in the statement. "Their numbers are declining at an alarming rate. If we do not act soon they will become a second baiji."

Pfluger and an occasional online diary kept by expedition members traced a dispiriting situation, as day after day team members engaged in a fruitless search for the baiji.

"At first the atmosphere was 'Let's go. Let's go save this damn species,' " Pfluger said. "As the weeks went on we got more desperate and had to motivate each other."

©MMVI, The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Well... damned...

We've effectivly lost another ancient species... and yes, it's humanity's fault. *shakes her head* Well.. how many more species can we destroy before we realize how wrongfully destructive we're being.

Yeah... and I know some here won't give a care... but that just proves my point on how selfish and uncareing some people can be. *shrugs*

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Dont worry according to creationists god can just "poof" another few into existence.

Sad thing to see a creature like this finally go down the drain because we cant share the earth with animals.

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Then every other animal that humanity has driven into extinction would have been "poofed" back into existance. ;P So far.. that has not happened. Only a handfull had been pulled from the brink of extinction... not because of some god.. but because some humans actually were able to do something to save them. Though some saved finaly fell due to poaching.

It's true.. the rarer the animal.. the more they're worth dead. Which is a sad sad thing...

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http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/12/13/...tr=HOME_2253676

Well... damned...

how many more species can we destroy before we realize how wrongfully destructive we're being.

Yeah... and I know some here won't give a care... but that just proves my point on how selfish and uncareing some people can be. *shrugs*

All the species, once humanity relizes that the animals are fundamental to the planet, there will be none and so we will die because believe it or not, we depend on them, once the animal species are dead then the vegeterian species will die ( plants, trees, etc ) and we will die. This is destiny, we can't stop it now, I wish we could but we can't. :(

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I don't think they're extinct yet. Just because one excursion doesn't turn up the dolphin, doesn't mean it's gone.

Hopefully there are still a few left.

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Yes, just remember the Colcanth. (however you spell it)

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I don't think they're extinct yet. Just because one excursion doesn't turn up the dolphin, doesn't mean it's gone.

Hopefully there are still a few left.

There are only a handfull left, if that. Only one sighting back in 2004.. 13 back in '97. The only way to even try to save them is hope there's atleast 25 left, take them into custody and hope they can breed in captivity. Then again, with rivers in China being so poluted, and overly used with boats and such... repopulating the species might be a futile attempt.

They'll probaly do another trek up the river... trying once more to catch sight of one... but hopes are not high. Especialy when they're found in one localized area now...

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Wow, just a few decades ago their population was at 200+. :hmm:

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There are only a handfull left, if that. Only one sighting back in 2004.. 13 back in '97. The only way to even try to save them is hope there's atleast 25 left, take them into custody and hope they can breed in captivity. Then again, with rivers in China being so poluted, and overly used with boats and such... repopulating the species might be a futile attempt.

They'll probaly do another trek up the river... trying once more to catch sight of one... but hopes are not high. Especialy when they're found in one localized area now...

Hopefully. River dolphins are elusive creatures.

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YOU DAMN POACHERS! I hear one post saying they're almost extinct, and I now hear THEY ARE!!! This is humanity for you, God has introduced these maginificent and beautiful creatures, AND WE FREAKIN' KILL THEM OFF! I can't even see straight I'm so mad, I just can't stand it. I didn't feel this bad since Steve Irwin died (God bless his soul). I just hope all the other cetaceans will still live for a few thousand more centuries (but I highly doubt that). Hopefully, in one million years, the whales and dolphins will evolve into an advanced society and take down the human race.

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[/(frogfish @ Dec 13 2006, 10:17 PM)

I don't think they're extinct yet. Just because one excursion doesn't turn up the dolphin, doesn't mean it's gone.

Hopefully there are still a few left.

There is no way a viable population can be established with even "a few" left.

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There is no way a viable population can be established with even "a few" left.
We brought back the Californian Condor when there were only 13 induviduals left. We saved the Asiatic Lion when the only pride alive contained 30 lions...Dolphins could be a challenge, but we are their only hope.

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We brought back the Californian Condor when there were only 13 induviduals left. We saved the Asiatic Lion when the only pride alive contained 30 lions...Dolphins could be a challenge, but we are their only hope.

The Condor and the Lion were not up against the fishing fleets of Japan.

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The Condor and the Lion were not up against the fishing fleets of Japan.

Save these dolphins arn't going up against the fishing fleets of japan. They're going up against the polluted rivers of china, the huge boats that go on those rivers screwing up their sonars... and just human encroachment on their habbitat in worse ways then the Condor, or the asian lion.

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Save these dolphins arn't going up against the fishing fleets of japan. They're going up against the polluted rivers of china, the huge boats that go on those rivers screwing up their sonars... and just human encroachment on their habbitat in worse ways then the Condor, or the asian lion.

Plus, they are going against the Three Gorges Dam, which is the most effective building for mass murder of animals ever created. Basically, it will kill almost everything that lives in or depends on the Yangtze, dolphins, Siberian Cranes, everything. Fab.

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The condors and asian lions were able to be caught, bred till there were enough, then let back out into the wilds. However.. with these river dolphins.. if *IF* they could even find another.. let alone enough to take and breed in captivity, reintroducing them back into that river will just lead them right back to this... Sure they could find a different river.. but pretty much all the rivers in china is a death sentence.

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.. but pretty much all the rivers in china is a death sentence.

Sadly, it's true...

My point was that animals CAN be brought back from the brink, but that is an ARDUOUS undertaking...:(

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Thats sad, I remember learnig about these wonderful creatures in a science class back in grade 6. Geeze. 6 years go by fast and bam, extinct.

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I only found out about this a few minutes ago. It came as something of a shock as, even though I knew the baiji was critically endangered, I thought it would be able to hold on with al the measures being taken to protect it. Luckily, it's been declared 'functionally extinct,' meaning that for the purposes of the discussion it is extinct, but not necessarily.

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