Thursday, August 09, 2007

Baiji: RIP

Extinction occurs in the modern era not with a bang, but a whisper.

The Yangtze River Dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer) was declared "functionally extinct" in December 2006, but was confirmed today as fully non-existent after a second six-week search found no animals. Technically, the Baiji can't be classified as extinct until 50 years after the last sighting, according to the standards of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Is the Great Leap Forward to be blamed for the first vertebrate extinction in half a century and the first ever cetacean (whale or dolphin) extinction due to human influence? The ultimate cause of death can be attributed to pollution, dams, overfishing, and boat traffic. That sounds like good old 'progress' to me. Your local news will report several tragic deaths tonight. Why won't this be one of them?

Millions of Years Couldn't Prepare You for a Century of Progress

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