HANNAH SMITH

Name: Chinese River Dolphin
Scientific Name: Lipotes Vexillifer
Nickname: "Goddess of the Yangtze"
baiji_chinese_river_dolphin.jpg
Description
The Chinese River Dolphin is a freshwater mammal that lives most commonly in the Yangtze River in China. It's dorsal side of the body ranges from a pale blue to a gray color and it's underbelly is white. It has a long, beak-like structure that holds 31-36 teeth on each side of the jaw. It's dorsal fin triangular in shape and sits very low on the body. They have small eyes and poor eyesight because they rely on echolocation for means of communication. It can grow up to 8 feet long and way up to 500 pounds! It's source of nutrition comes from a large spectrum of freshwater fish also found in the Yangtze River. It is believed that this dolphin species breeds in the first half of the year, peaking between the months of February and April, and then the following 10-11 months is the gestation period, or the development of the embryo. The newborn offspring is usually about 3 feet long, and they give birth to one calf for each pregnancy.
Habitat
This species is located below ground and only in freshwater, mostly in the Yangtze River in China, on the continent of Asia. Historically, this dolphin species subsisted in the middle to lower parts of the Yangzte River, along with connecting lakes and tributaries. However, due to rapid development along this river, their habitats have been depleted and it is believed that they are now restricted to the main channel of the river. The main predators to these creatures are most certainly humans.
Problems
This species, due to the results from the actions of the human population, is now critically endangered. They are hunted for value because of their meat as a food source and their body parts are ingredients in traditional Chinese medicine. Collisions with boats in the river, pollution, and their limited food source due to overfishing are also factors that contribute to the state of their endangerment.
Solutions
In order to conserve this species and prevent extinction, five natural reserves since 1986 have been established along the middle and lower parts of the Yangtze River. Two semi-natural reserves were also constructed to provide human care to these creatures. However, construction and development still continues to occur along this river and the accidental deaths of the dolphins still eliminates more and more dolphins each time. This is in response is thinning the barrier between endangerment and extinction.

Chinese River Dolphin . 18 May 1999. NOAA Fisheries . 5 Jan. 2011 <http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/​pr/​species/​mammals/​cetaceans/​chineseriverdolphin.htm>.

Yangtze River Dolphin. 15 July 2005. 5 Jan. 2011 <http://www.theanimalfiles.com/​mammals/​cetaceans/​yangtze_river_dolphin.html>.