'Functionally Extinct' Baiji Dolphin Spotted in Yangtze River
Chinese animal protection volunteers claimed they have spotted a baiji dolphin, which is a freshwater dolphin declared to be 'functionally extinct' a decade ago, in Yangtze River in Wuhu, Anhui province, on Oct. 4.
According to South China Morning Post, the expedition team first caught sight of a grey-white creature with a long snout leaping from the water three times between 200 and 300 meters away from the boat.
Like Us on Facebook
Song Qi, the team leader of the expedition, recalled that after 9:20 A.M. on Oct. 4, he saw animal appeared on the water's surface. "I saw most of the body, and the second time around I saw its mouth and head."
The team had two boats. The first one was approximately 100 meters close to where they spotted the animal was, while the second one was about 300 meters far.
Song claimed that the members aboard the first boat spotted the creature three times. He also estimated that around six people on the investigation team saw the animal, according to the Guardian.
"No other creature could jump out of the Yangtze like that," he told Sixth Tone. "All the eyewitnesses, which include fisherman, felt certain that it was a baiji."
Although he admitted that he is not a baiji expert, he said that the local fishermen who also saw the creature identified it as the baiji and were "100% certain."
The group, however, failed to capture conclusive evidence of the sightings.
The team reported the sighting to the Chinese Academy of Science, and a team of experts have been dispatched to look for the endangered species.
The last confirmed sighting of a baiji dolphin was in 2002. After an intensive six-week search in 2006, experts failed to find any evidence of the species along the 6,300-km (3,915 mile) waterway.
The baiji dolphin or Chinese river dolphin is unique to the Yangtze River, the South China Morning Post reported. And if there are any that remains alive, there numbers would be too low to make the species sustainable.