Baiji Dolphin or Yangtze River Dolphin is a critically endangered or possibly an extinct species of freshwater dolphins that inhabited in rivers of China. These were popular with fishermen from the Yangtze River which earned them the nickname of ‘Goddess of the Yangtze’.
Taxonomy of Baiji Dolphin
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Artiodactyla
- Infraorder: Cetacea
- Clade: Delphinida
- Superfamily: Lipotoidea
- Family: Lipotidae
- Genus: Lipotes
- Species: L. Vexillifer
- Binomial Name: Lipotes vexillifer
The Body of Baiji Dolphin is designed the same as the other dolphins. They have an upward-facing snout and a beak at the end of the snout. They have rounded flippers and compared to other dolphins, the eyes are located high up on the head.
The color of Baiji Dolphin was greyish blue with white or cream color underbelly. They have teeth on both the jaws which range from 30-36. One thing that separates this dolphin from the others is that Baiji Dolphin has a single stomach with 3 chambers, while others have 2 stomachs.
The distinguishing feature between Male and Female Baiji dolphins is that the females are longer and heavier than males. Baiji dolphins can reach up to 8 feet in length and weigh around 500 pounds.
The reproduction cycle cannot be determined for Baiji dolphins as they have no set period for reproduction, however, researchers have concluded that these dolphins usually breed in the first 6 months of the year and the calves are born 10-11 months later.
The young dolphins usually stay with the mother and feed on the milk produced by the mother until 6 months old and slowly starts to feed other fishes. Once the female dolphin gives birth, they do not reproduce for the next 3 years.
The main diet of Baiji Dolphins is fish, they tend to find their food at the bottom of the water and due to their aerodynamic body, they can dive easily and swiftly.
It is said that the Baiji dolphins do not have good vision, they tend to use the process of echolocation to locate their food and can find food with ease. They usually find food easily towards the banks of the river, however, if they do not find it, they tend to dive deeper.
Baiji dolphins live in freshwater and they were mostly found in the Yangtze River. They are hard to observe as they tend to stay underwater for a long time. Baiji Dolphins travel in a group of 5-10 members and they communicate with clicks and whistles. These dolphins are active during day time and tend to rest night time.
Due to the fact of Industry growth in China and particularly waste is thrown out in the Yangtze River, there has been low reproduction of these dolphins and are predicted to be extinct.
Another reason for their partial extinction is due to the commercialized fishing in which the dolphin gets caught up in the net and cannot come to the surface for oxygen intake. It is said that there has been the last sighting of these dolphins back in the year 2006 and it is deemed extinct now.
How many Baiji Dolphins are left in the world?
Some researchers estimate that there are less than 13 Baiji Dolphins left in the world and some say it is already extinct, however it is considered as one of the endangered species in the world.