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 along the river to the rural heartland.
What was once a lazy river and freshwater haven where dolphin could live out their 30-year lives free from the predators which threatened their cousins living in the sea, has become an abused high-energy artery from the East China sea to the interior.
Once there was a time when was 5,000 Baiji inhabiting the mainstream of the river, long before the human population started abusing the river. Presently dams block access to lakes where Baiji once nurtured their young and caught fish. Large cities pollute the river, exposing dolphin to toxic chemicals. 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...