Thousands of baiji or white dolphins, lived in the Yangtze River just 50 years ago, but water pollution, boating, and fishing harmed this marine mammal. Today, scientists believe it is extinct. In 2006, people on a boating expedition spotted what they thought was a Baiji. No other baijis have been since since.
- The baiji dolphin, known as the ‘Queen of the Yangtze’ lived in the Yangtze River for 20 million years.
- The baiji dolphin was a small dolphin with a long, narrow beak, a rounded head, and tiny eyes. It was shy and avoided humans. It had poor eyesight and used echolocation to find prey.
- As boat traffic on the river grew, it became harder for the dolphins to find prey because of the noise. Their sense of echolocation no longer worked.
- The Three Gorges Dam, which began construction in 1994, destroyed habitats and ecosystems, killing many river animals, including the baiji dolphin.
- These dolphins ate many types of freshwater fish.
- In the 1950s, there were 6,000 baijis living in the Yangtze River. In just 50 years, they became extinct.
- Marine mammal: a mammal that lives in the water
- Echolocation: using sound to create echoes to find things
- Extinct: no animals of a species living on earth any longer
Questions and Answers
Question: Where is the Yangtze River?
Answer: The Yangtze River is in China. It is the longest river in China and the third longest and largest river in the world.
Watch a video about the Striped dolphins.