A spoonful of ecology in China by Lonnie Hodge One of my favorite authors alive is Pat Conroy. I can still visualize that white dolphin that played a powerful metaphorical role in his book The Prince of Tides. The real life fin and blood species may only be the subject of fictional tales in the future. It is likely that the dophin, known as Baiji in China, it is lost forever according to a an expedition team on the Yangtze River that ended Wednesday without a single dophin sighting and with the team’s leader intimating that the twenty-million year old species was extinct. The shy and nearly blind mammal is believed to be the first large aquatic mammal, since hunting killed off the Caribbean monk seal some fifty years ago, that has been suffered extinction. According to The Globe Mail: “Overfishing and shipping traffic, whose engines interfere with the sonar the baiji uses to navigate and feed, are likely the main reasons for the mammal’s declining numbers, Mr. Pfluger said. Though the Yangtze is polluted, water samples taken by the expedition every 30 miles did not show high concentrations of toxic substances, the statement said. For nearly six weeks, Mr. Pfluger’s team of 30 scientists scoured a 1,000-mile heavily trafficked stretch of the Yangtze, where the baiji once thrived. The expedition’s two boats, equipped with high-tech binoculars and underwater microphones, trailed each other an hour apart without radio contact so that a sighting by one vessel would not prejudice the other. Around 400 baiji were believed to be living in the Yangtze in the 1980s. The last full-fledged search, in 1997, yielded 13 confirmed sightings, and a fisherman claimed to have seen a baiji in 2004, Mr. Pfluger said in an earlier interview. At least 20 to 25 baiji would now be needed to give the species a chance to survive, the group’s statement said, citing Wang Ding, a hydrobiologist and China’s foremost campaigner for the baiji.” Conroy’s dolphin survived interference by greed, environmental misdeeds, misguided well-doers and stood as a metaphor for escape from all that constrains us. “At first the atmosphere was ‘Let’s go. Let’s go save this damn species,”’ Mr. Pfluger said. “As the weeks went on we got more desperate and had to motivate each other.” The Yangtze dophin is gone, but it is an irrevocable death; and the baiji is not a literary allusion. We need to motivate each another. White DolphinDo your part to vote for Onemanbandwidth in the Web Blog Awards:

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