Yangtze Finless Porpoise
Neophocaena asiaeorientalis ssp. asiaeorientalis
- Increase of human population close to its natural habitat
- Heightened sound pollution
- Loss of food supply due to overfishing
- Vessel collision
- Entanglement in gill nets and other illegal fishing gears
- Death due to electro-fishing
- Habitat degradation due to dam construction and industrial pollution
- Slow reproduction habits
The Yangtze Finless Porpoise, one of the world’s seven porpoise subspecies that can live in freshwater areas, can only be found in China’s Yangtze River.
There’s no accurate data about their numbers, however estimates range between 500 and 1012 (2017 data)
Also called ‘river pig’ by locals due to its round head and plump body, the Yangtze Finless Porpoise is a critically endangered cetacean which will likely meet the same fate as the functionally extinct Yangtze River Dolphin (or Baiji) which lives on the same habitat.
As more human settlements are established near the porpoises’ home, their main food source becomes limited due to overfishing. Use of gillnets increases the porpoises’ risks of entanglement, electrofishing is unregulated, and getting hit by motor boats has been a regular occurrence – all activities leading to death.
Construction of dams can either alter the freshwater’s hydrological conditions or completely lead to habitat degradation. Combined with increased sound pollution brought by many of these changes, it can have a negative impact on the foraging habits of the porpoises and eventually, their chances of survival.
Because these charismatic freshwater porpoises have a low reproductive rate – conceiving a single calf for an 11-month gestational period – population recovery proves to be difficult especially when done in captivity.