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The Extinction thread
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evilsproutOffline
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PostPosted: 13-12-2006 22:38    Post subject: The Extinction thread Reply with quote

Very sad. Sad

Quote:

Rare White Dolphin Declared As Extinct

By CHARLES HUTZLER
The Associated Press
Wednesday, December 13, 2006; 2:11 PM

BEIJING -- A rare, nearly blind white dolphin that survived for millions of years is effectively extinct, an international expedition declared Wednesday after ending a fruitless six-week search of its Yangtze River habitat.

The baiji would be the first large aquatic mammal driven to extinction since hunting and overfishing killed off the Caribbean monk seal in the 1950s.


For the baiji, the culprit was a degraded habitat _ busy ship traffic, which confounds the sonar the dolphin uses to find food, and overfishing and pollution in the Yangtze waters of eastern China, the expedition said.

"The baiji is functionally extinct. We might have missed one or two animals but it won't survive in the wild," said August Pfluger, a Swiss economist turned naturalist who helped put together the expedition. "We are all incredibly sad."

The baiji dates back 20 million years. Chinese called it the "goddess of the Yangtze." For China, its disappearance symbolizes how unbridled economic growth is changing the country's environment irreparably, some environmentalists say.

"It's a tremendously sad day when any species goes extinct. It becomes more of a public tragedy to lose a large, charismatic species like the river dolphin," said Chris Williams, manager of river basin conservation for the World Wildlife Fund in Washington.

"The loss of a large animal like a river dolphin is often a harbinger for what's going on in the larger system as whole. It's not only the loss of a beautiful animal but an indication that the way its habitat is being managed, the way we're interacting with the natural environment of the river is deeply flawed ... if a species like this can't survive."

Randall Reeves, chairman of the Swiss-based World Conservation Union's Cetacean Specialist Group, who took part in the Yangtze mission, said expedition participants were surprised at how quickly the dolphins disappeared.

"Some of us didn't want to believe that this would really happen, especially so quickly," he said. "This particular species is the only living representative of a whole family of mammals. This is the end of a whole branch of evolution."

The damage to the baiji's habitat is also affecting the Yangtze finless porpoise, whose numbers have fallen to below 400, the expedition found.

"The situation of the finless porpoise is just like that of the baiji 20 years ago," the group said in a statement citing Wang Ding, a Chinese hydrobiologist and co-leader of the expedition. "Their numbers are declining at an alarming rate. If we do not act soon they will become a second baiji."

Pfluger said China's Agriculture Ministry, which approved the expedition, had hoped the baiji would be another panda, an animal brought back from the brink of extinction in a highly marketable effort that bolstered the country's image.

The expedition was the most professional and meticulous ever launched for the mammal, Pfluger said. The team of 30 scientists and crew from China, the United States and four other countries searched 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. When there was fog, he said, the boats waited for the mist to clear to make sure they took every opportunity to spot the mammal.


Around 400 baiji were believed to be living in the Yangtze in the early 1980s, when China was just launching the free-market reforms that have transformed its economy. The last full-fledged search, in 1997, yielded 13 confirmed sightings, and a fisherman claimed to have seen a baiji in 2004.

At least 20 to 25 baiji would now be needed to give the species a chance to survive, said Wang.

For Pfluger, the baiji's demise is a personal defeat. A member of the 1997 expedition, he recalls the excitement of seeing a baiji cavorting in the waters near Dongting Lake.

"It marked me," he said. He went on to set up the baiji.org Foundation to save the dolphin. In recent years, Pfluger said, scientists like the eminent zoologist George Schaller told him to stop his search, saying the baiji's "lost, forget it."

During the latest expedition, an online diary kept by team members traced a dispiriting situation, as day after day they failed to spot a single baiji.

Even in the expedition's final days, members believed they would find a specimen, trolling a "hotspot" below the industrial city of Wuhan where Baiji were previously sighted, Pfluger said.

"Hope dies last," he said.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/13/AR2006121300304.html


Last edited by evilsprout on 13-12-2006 23:04; edited 2 times in total
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bigphoot1Offline
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PostPosted: 13-12-2006 22:45    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sad, so very sad Sad
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XanaticoOffline
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PostPosted: 14-12-2006 14:42    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember reading about that dolphin in a newspaper 7 or 8 years ago. Never managed to get money donated to the cause sadly.
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sisiphusOffline
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PostPosted: 14-12-2006 18:07    Post subject: Reply with quote

The trouble being they weren't cute and furry.... so didn't get the attention a tiger or panda gets... tell someone that something that would make a nice cuddly toy is about to become extinct and there is uproar! if it's a lizard or a blind dolphin... apathy rules... a sad state of affairs really!
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KondoruOffline
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PostPosted: 14-12-2006 22:24    Post subject: Reply with quote

Think how different this scenario would be if they were a delicacy....
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XanaticoOffline
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PostPosted: 18-12-2006 12:35    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think plenty of species have died out exactly because they have been delicacies.

However a dolphin belongs among those cute animals that people love. I´m surprised it didn´t get more attention, even if it was a rather ugly dolphin.
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KondoruOffline
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PostPosted: 18-12-2006 21:01    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can you name any species that became extinct due to being hunted soley for food?

All dolphins are ugly.
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SemyazOffline
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PostPosted: 18-12-2006 21:17    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kondoru wrote:
Can you name any species that became extinct due to being hunted soley for food?


The Dodo
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KondoruOffline
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PostPosted: 18-12-2006 21:22    Post subject: Reply with quote

What about pressure from introduced predators?
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SemyazOffline
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PostPosted: 18-12-2006 22:00    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kondoru wrote:
What about pressure from introduced predators?


Don't expect they help much, but its probably a wide variety of reasons...

... humans being at the top of the list...
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KondoruOffline
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PostPosted: 19-12-2006 07:51    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ill look that one up.

My nomination would be Stellers sea cow...by natives
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SemyazOffline
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PostPosted: 19-12-2006 23:26    Post subject: Reply with quote

What natives??

Apparently, they were led to extinction by a variety of people including sailors, seal hunters and fur traders...probably from the still expanding European empires. ALthough, it does say the population may have been dwindling already...

Quote:
The population of sea cows was likely small when Steller first described the giant creatures. Some scientists think the entire population included fewer than 2,000 animals, all of which lived around Bering and Copper islands. This small population was wiped out quickly by the sailors, seal hunters, and fur traders that followed Vitus Bering's route past the islands to Alaska. These people killed the sea cows primarily for food and their skins, which were used to make boats. As a result of unlimited killing, the Steller's sea cow population declined sharply. In 1768, just 27 years after Steller first described the sea cow, the species became extinct. Today, the sea cow seems an almost imaginary creature, but Steller's descriptions and a few intact skeletons and pieces of skin, preserved in museums, prove that this amazing animal lived in the Bering Sea just over 200 years ago.


Source: http://www.calacademy.org/exhibits/science_under_sail/biodiversity.html

But even the reduction in the food source (kelp) was reduced, probably because of the incuring human factor.
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KondoruOffline
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PostPosted: 20-12-2006 07:30    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sea cows of varying spiecie were found from Japan to California in prehistoric times.

`something` happened to them

It was Stellars hard luck to hit upon a relict population (though not an unviable one) if he realised this, they would been of great value to collectors.

whether or not their subsequent history would have been very differrent I dont know.
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XanaticoOffline
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PostPosted: 20-12-2006 16:49    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I think there was a species of penguin that got extinct after too many sailors realised it made for a handy happy meal to take with you. I think it was on one of the capes. And then of course many animals are threathened because of their "medicinal value" in eastern medicine.
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PostPosted: 21-12-2006 02:31    Post subject: Reply with quote

Given how intelligent dolphins are, I wonder how lonely the last one felt. It would be like if everyone else on earth died and you were just wandering around going "Hello?" without knowing there was no one there to respond.

They still have the freshwater dolphins in the amazon right? I'll just check wikipedia to see how they're do-

"Several damming projects of the kind that have devastated populations in Asia have been proposed for the region."

Shocked

They're pink. PINK! No pink animal deserves extinction.
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