Biodiversity challenge – Baiji

Dolphin unfriendly
'Ghosts of The Baiji River Dolphin' Oil Painting by Chloe Water field

‘Ghosts of The Baiji River Dolphin’
Oil Painting by Chloe Waterfield

Bye, bye, baiji,
Bye, bye.
Sold down the Yangtze,
Left high and dry.
Sonar scrambled,
Sand bars sullied.
Swimming in
Ever-decreasing eddies,
A drowning chicken
Unsure where its head is.
A drifting boat
Without a skipper;
Up pollution creek
Without a flipper.
Aquatic static
And argy bargy;
Traffic too hectic,
Current electric.
Wave a white fin
In cetacean surrender,
Wearily tender
Your resignation;
Sound the death knell
For echolocation
In underwater hell.
Farewell, baiji,

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

Species profile: Baiji

IUCN Red List Category: Critically Endangered (Possibly extinct)

The baiji, or Yangtze River dolphin, is characterised by a very long, slightly upturned beak and low triangular dorsal fin. Like other freshwater dolphins that inhabit muddy rivers, it navigates using echolocation, rather than by sight, and has tiny, barely functional eyes. The baiji has the dubious honour of being the world’s most endangered cetacean, and may well already be extinct. The last confirmed sighting was in 2002 and comprehensive surveys conducted since that time have failed to locate a single specimen. China’s rapid industrial expansion and development has led to increased river traffic, construction activity, upstream damming, dredging, pollution, unsustainable fishing practices and a whole litany of other environmental pressures, rendering the Yangtze inhospitable, if not uninhabitable, for the baiji. More info

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