550

Baiji

East Asia

550

Lipotes vexillifer

Endangered

  • Habitat pollution
  • Habitat loss
  • Uncontrolled hunting
  • Death through illegal fishing practices, boat collision, and drowning in fishing gears

Baiji or Chinese River Dolphin when translated is ‘white-finned dolphin’. In Chinese, it is a symbol of peace and prosperity. Its scientific name Lipotes Vexilifer is translated ‘left behind’ and flag bearer, respectively. Its other local name is Yangtze River Dolphin and it is considered by local fishermen folks as their goddess of protection.

Upon reaching sexual maturity, both males and females can weigh up between 298 lbs and 507 lbs. Females, however, are longer than males with the former beyond 8 feet and the latter at 7 feet 7 inches in length. The Baiji has blue-grey back and white belly with a long upturned beak. It possesses between 31 and 36 conical teeth. Though it has poor vision and is completely dependent on sonar navigation, it can swim up to 60kph. It hunts exclusively smaller freshwater creatures.

Economic development in its water habitat and its surrounding areas has dramatically affected the Baiji’s natural ecosystem. It is vulnerable to being intentionally killed for its flesh and skin as more and more fishermen frequent its feeding grounds. It is affected by noise pollution due to the presence of fishing boats and also prone to being a victim of boat collision or being struck by boat propellers. Mortality rate is also high due to illegal electric fishing as well as drowning from entanglement on fishing gears such as gill nets.