Baiji

The baiji has made a terrible mistake, which to be honest has only endeared himself to The Proceedings. He spent tens of thousands of years evolving to live in a lovely river, only for someone to bugger up all his hard work in the space of a few decades… the baiji’s home has had such an extensive buggering he’s unfortunately one of the rarest animals on the planet… indeed if he is alive at all.

The baiji is one of four species of river dolphin that have evolved independently around the world. This one hails from the Yangtze river… hence its common name ‘the Yangtze river dolphin’… well I thought that was funny… its Latin name is Lipotes vexifillier which means “left behind flag bearer”… really lost on that one. Though perhaps this lovely dolphin’s oddest monicker is its nickname; “goddess of the river”. No, no I’m not saying the baiji isn’t enchanting… one is saying that this heavenly moniker seems a tad incongruous. In fact such a name can only really be relevant if it’s common practice for the Yangtze locals to deafen, poison and generally mistreat their goddesses… perhaps buggering about vengeful deities is the only way to explain why the river is so bloody awful in the first place.

baiji

Given the choice most animals wouldn’t have evolved in China, after millions of years of unadulterated bliss in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, suddenly they became assailed from every blooming direction. When they weren’t being poisoned from pollution, they were being eaten. When they weren’t being ground up into little placebos they were… actually that’s bally well enough. Of course the absolute worse place in China that an animal could choose to evolve in is the Yangtze.

Now a huge centre of commerce, the Yangtze is about as peaceful as a Beijing bell factory, and simply put the baiji is more out of place than a Scot at a charity fundraiser. Of course this lovely dolphin wasn’t always so incongruous. It evolved in a rather muddy river and so forewent the need for sight. While it gave up trying to squint its way through the sediment rich Yangtze it evolved a highly developed sense of hearing. Of course back in the day he was having a lovely time, because his hearing was so acute he was able to bimble around the great river quite happily… right up until the point that the motor engine was invented. Now the dolphin’s home has circular saws whizzing through it… circular saws that render the poor sod absolutely blind.

baiji3

What’s more the pollutants and other gubbins sloshing downriver have all added up to make sure that this river dolphin is done for. The Baiji is now so rare in fact that it’s been declared functionally extinct, despite someone thinking they might have seen one a couple of years back, it’s got no chance, without wanting to go into gene flow and population dynamics i hope you’ll be satisfied with me just saying the poor bugger is done for… even if there are a couple of dolphin goddesses left the chance of them even meeting each other in the Hades like depths of the Yangtze sadly seems really rather unlikely…

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Published in: on August 27, 2009 at 9:08 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Beautiful animal… although the pollution takes place in China, Americans and Europeans own most of the offending factories.

  2. I think that you should be aware of the fact that the top photograph in this article is actually of the Amazon River Dolphin, or boto, not a Yangtze River Dolphin (baiji).

    Great article, though. It’s always nice to see someone on the side of these beautiful creatures. If it were a playful Bottlenose Dolphin, or a Killer Whale going extinct, I’m sure there would be more of a public outcry. These poor River dolphins don’t get much credit simply because they are so rare and often considered “ugly.” I have always found them intriguing and the world has suffered a terrible loss.

    • Hell’s teeth you are right!
      Changed… and to say I’ve just got back from an expedition to see the Boto too!
      Smashing creatures they were too, and so odd to have a dolphin so far up the Amazon basin it wasn’t even in Brazil… and let’s not forget you can easily fit Australia in that country!

    • i think there cool, and should be found, if possible.


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