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Nature & Environment

'Extinct' river dolphin shows up in China

By T.K. Randall
October 12, 2016 · Comment icon 23 comments

The sightings have yet to be confirmed but seem quite promising. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Ekem
Chinese conservationists believe that they have spotted an extinct dolphin species in the Yangtze river.
Sometimes referred to as the "goddess of the Yangtze", the Chinese river dolphin, or baiji, was declared functionally extinct in 2006 after an extensive six-week search failed to find any sign of it.

Now however it appears as though reports of their demise may have been a little premature - that is at least according to a group of conservationists who reported seeing several of the animals leaping out of the Yangtze river during an amateur expedition last week.

"I saw most of the body, and the second time around I saw its mouth and head," said expedition leader Song Qi. "The front boat saw it three times."
"No other creature could jump out of the Yangtze like that. All the eyewitnesses - which include fishermen - felt certain that it was a baiji dolphin."

Sadly though the team did not manage to take any photographs or record any other evidence.

"Extreme claims for the possible survival of probably extinct species require robust proof," said biologist Samuel Turvey who has authored a book detailing the extinction of the dolphins.

"While I would deeply love there to be strong evidence that the baiji is not extinct, this isn't it."

Source: Independent | Comments (23)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #14 Posted by psyche101 7 years ago
Actually 2007. Really, not all that long ago. And that was the 6 week search, which strikes me as short for something as large as the Yangtze. That was why I mentioned the Thylacine, not so much the Animal, but the extensive searches we have done. 
Comment icon #15 Posted by Hammerclaw 7 years ago
They'll eat it. A people who'll eat duck feet and bird nests will eat anything that doesn't eat them first.
Comment icon #16 Posted by Nnicolette 7 years ago
Me? I think psyche answered pretty well. Why would you need ME to tell you why the fishermen didnt have better recording equipment? I dont know them  but they are fishermen not photographers i figured that answer should be pretty obvious.  Or did you want me to respond to the part where you said i dont understand the process of deciding whether something is there or not?  What should i say besides that an i credibly shortsighted and arrogant opinion. Both my parents worked for the forest service thier whole lives i have actually participated in this type of activity many many times. I have in ... [More]
Comment icon #17 Posted by oldrover 7 years ago
I agree with the bulk of your post, I think a six week search is silly. It's woefully inadequate.  Now for the pedantism, the thylacine was last seen alive for certain on September the 7th 1936. Hence the 50 year rule coming into effect in 86. Wild animals were still being captured as late as 1933. The year the famous last captive was caught. Probably. And they weren't so much declared endangered as granted legal protection in 1936. Which is sort of reasonable, as no one thought they were extinct in the wild then, as they almost certainly weren't.  
Comment icon #18 Posted by oldrover 7 years ago
About the Baji in general, as far as I'm aware it's current ICN conservation status is 'Critically Endangered'. Not extinct. It may be regarded as functionally extinct, but that's not the same as there not being any left. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/12119/0 So they may well have seen some, but I'm with those who feel that without any evidence it's hearsay. If that sounds harsh, think about it. If we accept eye witness testimony alone for the presence of an endangered species, then we've still got the thylacine, great auk, stellar's sea cow, megalania, diprotodon, and so on.  It might be... [More]
Comment icon #19 Posted by psyche101 7 years ago
Yeah, that's the main point I am getting at   Not quite in the 20's they already realised the Thylacine was nearing extinction, and some took steps at that point, which as we find now was far too late. In 1928 the Tasmanian Advisory Committee for Native Fauna recommended a reserve similar to the Savage River National Park to protect any remaining thylacines, with potential sites of suitable habitat including the Arthur-Pieman area of western Tasmania. But the searches are like I say more what I am getting at. There has been extensive searches, in addition to ones like Jeremy Griffith and dairy... [More]
Comment icon #20 Posted by Timonthy 7 years ago
Hi again, Well, firstly, I never mentioned the equipment of the fishermen. 'The team didn’t manage to capture conclusive evidence...' Referring to the conservationists in the article of course. I did mention that it would only take a tiny sum to pay the locals, to boost tourism, not to buy camera equipment. This is why I numbered my post. To clarify where I was coming from and make it easy to respond to. psyche101; I don't disagree with what you're saying. Edit: I'm having issues with the 'quote' function. I'd like you to answer my initial post.
Comment icon #21 Posted by Nnicolette 7 years ago
What is wrong with you? Yes i hear that you would like me to tell you why the fishermen did not have equipment onboard that can record 1080p and has 10x zoom. I figured the answer was pretty obvious even before the first time i answered. Attention thirsty much? It was random that i came back and read that rubbish again but for future reference demanding that certain other readers post back responding to the same dribble twice is hardly going to change anything besides irritating them with your ridiculousness a second time.  Heres one for you... Why didnt YOU buy them a better camera if it both... [More]
Comment icon #22 Posted by Nnicolette 7 years ago
Comment icon #23 Posted by Timonthy 7 years ago
The issue is you misreading my post and thinking that I referred to the fishermen having equipment (which I never did) and then responding in the way you did. I did not once (or twice) ask you about the equipment of the fishermen. So, one last time: The fishermen and the team of conservationists are different people. I never mentioned anything to do with the fishermen having any kind of equipment. If you are a team of conservationists (even an amateur team) going on an expedition to try and spot a thought-to-be-extinct species, you think you'd bring a few  decent cameras...

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