Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

Baiji River Dolphin May or May Not Be Extinct 175

Posted by Zonk
from the they-don't-want-to-go-on-the-cart dept.
ozmanjusri writes "Major news outlets are reporting that after 20 million years, Baiji (Yangtze River Dolphin) are now officially extinct. This is apparently actually old news; it was announced on a Baiji conservation website in December of last year. One outlet, though, is claiming they may not quite be completely dead yet. The same scientist that filed the report leading the the declaration of extinction is still hopeful: '"This is only one survey and...you can't have a sample in a survey, so you cannot say the baiji all is gone by the result of only one survey," he said. "For example, there is some side channels or some tributaries [where] we cannot go because of a restriction of navigation rules, and also we don't survey during the night-time so we may miss some animals in the Yangtze River." Professor Ding says based on anecdotal evidence, he remains confident the dolphins are still out there. "I'm pretty much sure there are a few of them left somewhere in the Yangtze River," he said. "I keep receiving reports from fishermen, they say they saw a couple of baiji somewhere, sometime."'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Baiji River Dolphin May or May Not Be Extinct

Comments Filter:
  • You Idiots (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is apparently actually old news; it was announced on a Baiji conservation website in December of last year.

    I'll do you one better than that, it was apparently reported on fucking Slashdot too [slashdot.org].

    Seriously, what is wrong with you people? Are you purposely making fun of yourselves? Because to those of us who aren't in on the joke, which is most of us I guess, it looks like the site is run by a bunch of fucking dumbasses.

  • by Hikaru79 (832891) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @10:39PM (#20200051) Homepage
    After the commercials, "Human Beings May or May Not Be Extinct"!
    • by Nephilium (684559)

      I was hoping I wasn't the only one who read the headline and went, "Yep, everything may or may not be extinct..."

      I mean... Boolean logic is relatively well known, and used quite frequently by those who frequent this site...

      Nephilium...

      • It is an idiomatic expression, not set theory. It indicates a precarious and undetermined situation. So, unlike a tautology, it does provide information: that the state is unknown, "too close to call."

        And the eternal battle between linguists and set theorists continues.
    • I Didn't RTFA, so I'm going to assume TFA is a discussion about the Quantum state of Sea Life.
      • by Torvaun (1040898)
        "Noah's ark is a problem."
        "Really?"
        "We'll have to call it early quantum state phenomenon. Only way to fit 5,000 species of mammal on the same boat."
  • that there were 11 in captivity a few years back (they all died), they were trying to breed them in captivity. but they took tissue samples

    please, please, please someone tell me the chinese have some of those tissue samples in liquid nitrogen. given some technological progress then, we might be able to bring the baiji back to life in a century or so

    otherwise, the chinese deserve international sanctions for losing some of our shared world species diversity. it should be a un mandate with economic consequence
    • by daeg (828071)
      The dolphin is one of many past and even more future extinctions caused by China. I'd start buying stock in environmental clean up technology now -- in a few decades their entire country will resemble the Love Canal disaster.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The species will never be viable again. Even if there are living specimens, even if there are tissue samples, the gene diversity is way too small to sustain a healthy population. You might be able to create a few in a lab but they will not be good for anything more than curiosity. As for sanctions against China, that is just outwardly ridiculous. UN mandates? You do know that China has veto power, being a permanent Security Council member, right?

      It might do you some good to educate yourself on these kinds o
      • the baiji has been important to the culture of china going back thousands of years, they were regarded as river goddesses. the chinese also venerate their ancestors. so, the chinese have just killed an animal that their ancestors regarded with great respect. there, there's some more of my western patronizing and condescending to speak on behalf of the chinese

        and yes, there should be international sanctions against china for this crime. yes, there probably won't be. because of course, if a crime is committed
        • Since it was culturally significant to the Chinese, I suspect the Chinese are the ones who care. But wait! They're the ones who killed it off! Guess they didn't really care that much.
        • by p0tat03 (985078) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @04:16AM (#20201483)

          Hi. Chinese guy here. And yeah, you are being patronizing.

          It's true that the baiji are somewhat significant in Chinese culture, but to the point you seem to think it is. Personally nobody I knew ever thought about them, or indeed were aware of them outside of field trips to some science museum. The whole "ancestors placed importance in baiji" and "Chinese venerate ancestors" is just one big non-sequitor I'm not even going to touch.

          Keep in mind that the significance of the river dolphins was limited to an isolated geographical region, where the vast majority of Chinese did *not* reside. Maybe there are people living on the banks of the yangtze mourning their loss, but for the other 99.99% of Chinese people out there, things haven't changed a bit.

          Now... Regarding your previous comment. While it's certainly unfortunate and sad that the baiji have been killed off due to human actions, in the end who is responsible? Want to dig Mao out of the ground and put him on trial for instituting the Great Leap Forward that encouraged such reckless killings? Good luck with that. In the end, commercial fisheries, massively increased boat traffic, and the construction of the Three Gorges Dam were primary contributors to the extinction of these dolphins. IMHO all of these have been critical to raising the standard of living and quality of life for the Chinese people. I wish we could have both (human prosperity and ecological conservation), and perhaps we could have under more effective leadership or more resources, but those were the cards we were dealt.

          What would a serious conservation effort require to preserve these creatures? Stop using the Yangtze as an industry shipping lane? Spew even more toxic gases into the atmosphere by constructing the huge number of fuel-burning power plants that the Three Gorges Dam could replace? Stop fishing the Yangtze and deny a critical food source for the local population? I hate to be so human-ist about everything, but between the survival of humans the the survival of a bunch of dolphins, it's pretty clear which I pick.

          So now the baiji are (probably) all dead. What did we receive out of that deal? Millions of Chinese are now far more prosperous than they were before. Remote regions are no longer starving, and many now have access to proper food, shelter, and medicine. The situation in China, especially the rural areas, is not pretty, but for the most part it's a lot better than it was before.

          • I just want to know the traditional way. Regular dolphin is so fatty, I'm wondering if Baiji was leaner.
          • straw man (Score:3, Interesting)

            how much additional effort would it have taken the chinese to save the dolphin from extinction?

            you seem to say that economic development, the three gorges damn, etc.: it required the dolphin go extinct. really? so china can exert great effort to build a damn, but not the tiniest of effort to save a dolphin?

            fact is, it is now the eternal shame of the chinese for killing this creature. not according to this westerner. don't ask me, ask your grandchildren

            they won't mind at all that your poor choices means the
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by petsounds (593538)
            It is sad that China cannot learn from the mistakes of the west. Your China is like America in the 1950s. All properity, all industry, no ecology. In 40 years, China and the world will be weeping at the ecological damage you have wrought upon the earth. Already you are poisoning your own people with smog. The Three Gorges Dam is an environmental, archaeological, and socioeconomic disaster. Important archaeological sites have been submerged, whole towns have been moved, and the Yangtze ecosystem will be
            • by p0tat03 (985078)

              There are similarities between China and America of the 50s, but they're not as analogous as you might think.

              America in the 50s was in an economic boom like never seen before, but for the most part its population was already relatively prosperous. Education, shelter, food, and medicine were generally available, which is a far cry from China in the present (or worse, in the past).

              China has a ludicrous number of people who still do not have access to food, medicine, and shelter. There are still villages s

    • by grahamd0 (1129971)
      I'm starting to fear that my libertarianism is becoming dangerous, but so what if they're extinct? It's just like pandas, everyone wants them around because they're cute and cuddly, but all they want to do is loaf around and eat grass all day. What good are they? Are they keeping the bamboo population at bay?
      • let me take you to right to the end game of the nihilist's position:

        1. if nothing matters, kill yourself. or at least shut up and stop posting on slashdot. it doesn't matter, right? so why are you talking about it if it doesn't matter?

        2. okay, then it does matter. so keep talking. but stop saying statements that contradict your demonstrated desire to say something about the subject matter. namely "it doesn't matter"

        on any ideological issue, there is being for it, being against it, and not caring about it

        not
        • by grahamd0 (1129971)

          let me take you to right to the end game of the nihilist's position:

          1. if nothing matters, kill yourself. or at least shut up and stop posting on slashdot. it doesn't matter, right? so why are you talking about it if it doesn't matter?

          1. I don't claim to be a nihilist, but nice try.

          2. okay, then it does matter. so keep talking. but stop saying statements that contradict your demonstrated desire to say something about the subject matter. namely "it doesn't matter"

          2. Perhaps "it doesn't matter" is a valid point in the discussion. Resource A is being wasted on problem X. It may be worthwhile to discuss the validity of problem X in order to determine value lost of resource A. The entire discussion may, in fact, be irrelevant and by pointing that out I save those engaged in it a valuable resource, namely: time.

          on any ideological issue, there is being for it, being against it, and not caring about it

          not caring about an issue IS a valid position for you to take if you want. so prove you don't care. shut up and go away. otherwise, you do care. in which case, celebrate the death of the dolphin, or express your anger or sadness about it
          but coming into a topic of discussion and announcing that the topic doesn't matter is not a logically coherent position. if you talk about it, it matters to you. if you don't talk about it, it doesn't matter to you.

          but talking about how something doesn't matter to you. what the hell is that point of view supposed to mean to anyone else? it's hypocrisy at best. no one is tying you down to a computer terminal, holding your eyes open with toothpicks, putting your fingers on a keyboard, pointing a gun at your head and forcing you to comment on slashdot. so prove it doesn't matter: shut up, and go away

          Or, I could seek to inform myself of other's opinions about the subject at hand with a question. "So what if th

        • There is a fourth option: perhaps he doesn't care about the particular subject, but just likes to argue.

      • by Joe Tie. (567096)
        Because they're immensely important to studying how consciousness works. We don't have a lot of ape species to experiment on, but the second tier on the cognitive spectrum is dolphins. Most significant in this aspect are the species which have diverged from the main lines long ago. This one in particular was very unique in that aspect, and we've never gotten around to properly studying it in that regard. Data on how consciousness both functions, and more importantly how it evolves, is now potentially unavai
      • read up about biodiversity and also ask you a question:
        what good are you? i mean, i don't need you, and i am pretty sure that pretty much 100% of the world population doesn't need you either.
    • by hormesis (1139599)
      The UN? Do something? Surely you jest!
    • by Tablizer (95088)
      it should be a un mandate with economic consequences that countries are responsible for the lifeblood of the species in their territories

      I doubt the US is saintly in this area. Be careful what you ask for.
           
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by edwardpickman (965122)
      You're forgetting the most important point, how did they taste in sushi? Several million Japanese are dying to find out. See, there are good reasons for cloning.
    • "the baiji is a potent chinese symbol to the chinese themselves"

      I thought they've replaced that symbol with portraits of George Washington instead long ago -- replaced along with any concern for living in harmony with nature (Taoism) or compassion towards other living beings (Buddhism).

    • by plunge (27239)
      The Chinese (and by this, I mean the current government and the culture it enforces) apologize? The one true chosen people who are destined to rule the world?

      What universe are you living in?

      Remember, this is the same country that once inspired mobs to slaughter these very animals en masse because their glorious leaders declared that they were enemies of the revolution or something (I'm not kidding) because they were magical sacred symbols of a decedent past. That's some scary crazy.

      I'm not saying that the
  • Two-humped camels may or may not be extinct!

    Walruses may or may not be extinct!

    Jellyfish may or may not be extinct!

    The common house cat may or may not be extinct!

    Triceratops may or may not be extinct!
    • by buswolley (591500)
      You might or might not be moderated +1 Funny.
    • We have loads of them.

      We just call them politicians.
    • by Tablizer (95088)
      Two-humped camels may or may not be extinct! Walruses may or may not be extinct! Jellyfish may or may not be extinct! The common house cat may or may not be extinct! Triceratops may or may not be extinct!

      It's Heisingburg environmentalism. Maybe if we stop observing species, they won't dissappear.
                 
  • What happens in the Long River, stays in the Long River.
  • by akkarin (1117245)
    Or maybe not. But probably. Not. On the other hand... of course, if you.. no, no, they're dead. I think. -The Thinker
  • by HermDog (24570) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @10:46PM (#20200105)
    Well, who's going to open the box and find out if the dolphins are dead or if they're cats?
  • They're just restin'
  • by sykopomp (1133507) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @10:52PM (#20200131)
    Schroedinger would be proud and Einstein would piss his pants!!!... I daresay
  • The researchers just need to look for Norway further up the river.
  • by MarsDefenseMinister (738128) <dallapieta80@gmail.com> on Saturday August 11, 2007 @11:21PM (#20200277) Homepage Journal
    I guess I'd better save the one I have in my freezer for a really special dinner, because I won't have to get another one. And the dolphin they're putting in those little cans is often adulterated with tuna, which spoils it in my opinion.

    • by Tablizer (95088)
      Reminds me of a bumper sticker: "Save the whales . . . . . for dinner!"
             
    • by GeckoX (259575)
      I know there is a certain kind of morbid humor that is accepted and even encouraged surrounding such tragedies...but do people not sometimes think humor like this is maybe not a good thing?

      All it really does is gives us a way of accepting a tragedy such as this as 'inevitable, and not my fault'. Makes it easier to shrug our shoulders and go 'oh well'.

      Maybe some things simply shouldn't be joked about. Or at least, maybe if we didn't joke about these things, and took them very seriously, we might as a whole b
      • We're not responsible for it, and people who say that we are usually just want to end the capitalist system. So, don't start with me. All that'll happen is I'll giggle. A lot.
        • by GeckoX (259575)
          Yep, it's that kind of attitude that makes me fear for our collective future.

          What do you mean by 'We're not responsible for it'? Us as a species? North Americans? You personally?

          How would you feel if every macro species on the planet outside of north america were wiped out? Still hold the same viewpoint? Still be all high and mighty and giggly inside?

          My point is, what is wrong with acting to stop these things from happening. Wouldn't that make more sense than giggling like a school girl when atrocities like
          • Collective future? Sounds vaguely communist to me. I'm more interested in worrying about my own future. I have control over that.

            Further, a TRUE capitalist would be able to figure out how to MAKE money off of saving species like this.

            What's a true capitalist? And what's your business model? And what's your market? The problem with your laughable statement is that you libs don't want to let true capitalists DO what capitalists DO. What if we could save that dolphin by farming it and turning it into a money m
            • by GeckoX (259575)
              You presume way WAY too much.

              That's the 2nd reply you've made to me in which you've made many assumptions about many things without knowing anything for certain.

              You know nothing about me, and yet you act like you know everything about me.
              Your problems are well outside the scope of this particular topic.

              And as it would obviously be a complete waste of time, I won't respond directly to your presumptions.
              • Same for you. I didn't kill the dolphins. On the other hand, a case could be made for you that you LET the dolphins die. Apparently it matters to you, and you seem to take responsibilities for their deaths. So, the dolphins are dead DESPITE your best efforts. Sorry about your failure. I didn't do anything to the dolphins, so don't blame me.
                • by GeckoX (259575)
                  Ahh, but by joking about their demise, one could argue that you DID do something to aid in their demise.

                  By your reasoning, if I have some blame in this, then so do you.

                  To redirect a bit, you seem to be taking this awfully personally for someone that has no guilty conscience...considering that I never once blamed you in any way shape or form. I actually did not condemn you for joking either. I was merely questioning our tendency to joke about these things, and wondering if that in itself may in fact be harmf
                  • Only if you assume I have a time machine. By your own words, I'm joking about the tasty dead dolphins AFTER they are dead. Of course, I assume that you were concerned about the dolphins before they were dead.

  • The last one seen alive reportedly said "I feel happy! I feel happy!"
  • If only ... (Score:1, Redundant)

    by asifyoucare (302582)
    .. they had frickin' lasers on their heads. Nobody would mess with 'em then.
    • by Tablizer (95088)
      .. they had frickin' lasers on their heads. Nobody would mess with 'em then.

      Maybe that's what they are doing. They'll come back and say, okay, now its you human's time to feel the brink of extinction. zzzt zzzzt...
                           
    • I love that the lasers are modded redundant. It makes the little boy in me say YAY! Maybe-or-maybe-not-extinct-dolphins who already have lasers! It's like a superhero waiting to happen. Thinking he's the last of his kind, a young Baiji River Dolphin sets out to restore peace and justice to the world's rivers.

      (Oh, and he has a laser.)
  • I'm curious.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by PJ1216 (1063738) *
    How thorough do these surveys have to be to finally declare a species extinct? I mean, there's a lot of water, isn't there? I mean, I know this isn't the middle of the ocean, but I'm sure there's a lot of space to cover. Logically speaking, to confidently say something is extinct, wouldn't that require a proof of exhaustion. Literally just checking every possible place and not finding any evidence of the animal. I mean, if they haven't checked everywhere, I don't think they should be saying 'extinct' ju
  • Miracle Max (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LightPhoenix7 (1070028) on Saturday August 11, 2007 @11:24PM (#20200307)
    See, there's a big difference between mostly extinct, and all extinct. Now, mostly extinct: they're slightly not-extinct. All extinct, well, with all extinct, there's usually only one thing that you can do...

    In all seriousness, with so few members of the species, they're effectively extinct, and that's what counts. There may be one or two, but there's zero chance they'll balloon into a viable population. Even if we save genetic samples, we're decades, if not centuries, away from being able to reproduce an entire species, if we can even do that. Even if we have tissue samples from twenty different dolphins, and reproduce them through some hypothetical cloning technique, I'm not convinced that's enough genetic diversity to sustain the species.
    • That's the problem. If you do happen to have a population of twenty, I agree that it's not much. That may not be extinct now, but it's probably just borrowed time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Leperflesh (200805)
      An organism, particularly a mammal, is far more than its own DNA. Humans have 10 times as many bacterial cells in our bodies as human cells. Dolphins are no different. A baby dolphin no doubt gets cultures of all sorts of bacteria from its mother's milk. Unique symbiotic organisms live on the skin, in the gut, even in the blood in some animals.

      Further, the species is adapted to a particular ecological niche - in this case, the Yangtse River.

      Further, particularly in mammals, there are learned behaviors that
      • by Dalroth (85450)
        >An organism, particularly a mammal, is far more than its own DNA. Humans have 10 times as many bacterial cells in our bodies as human cells. Dolphins are no different. A baby dolphin no doubt gets cultures of all sorts of bacteria from its mother's milk. Unique symbiotic organisms live on the skin, in the gut, even in the blood in some animals.

        I've heard this claim before. 10x times a pretty hard number to swallow without some real proof. Where's the study? Where's your source? I've never seen any a
      • by StikyPad (445176)
        I can categorically state that mating behavior and child rearing is completely instinctive in all mammals, with the possible, though unlikely, exception of ourselves. Hunting techniques may not be instinctive, but they are generally developed by playing with siblings. What to eat may not be instinctive, but animals are well equipped to find the foods they commonly eat: dogs have great noses, cats have excellent vision, dolphins have echo-location, etc. Most mammals will start out trying to eat anything,
    • by ediron2 (246908) *
      Tell that to condors, whooping cranes, bison and all the other nearly-gones that still aren't gone. With the rather famous and depressing exception of condors, we're pretty good at getting numbers that stave off outright extinction.

      In the case of these dolphins, getting a maintenance population the *hell* out of China seems more likely to work than refuge creation: china still doesn't seem to grok the 'canary in a coalmine' concept that rampant pollution and resource overuse has a limit that China is sprin
  • Let's say ALL the cute animals, and homo sapiens eventually die out. For whatever natural or man-made reason.

    So what?

    As long as there is some life left, there will be a "what's next".

    Do you really care who is at the top of the food chain a million years from now?

    • Of course I care who is at the top of the food chain. They'll be paying for my social security for the next million years after that point. Based upon the evidence I've collected showing that I have never actually died before, I see no reason why it should happen before 2 million years from now, provided I avoid car crashes, werewolves, and vitamin K-19.
    • by Joe Tie. (567096)
      I don't care too much if we're around, or dolphins for that matter. What I do care about is sentient life, animals able to contemplate their own consciousness. It's taken a really long time for that to evolve, and I'm not so certain that the planet has enough time left to get it into a tool using state, and off planet. Right now sentience has us as a representative. There might be more in space, but I do care that the only species we're a 100% sure of lives on. Dolphins, too, I care about for their place a
  • And as we all know, Koalas are Little Bitches (http://ascii.textfiles.com/archives/000451.html [textfiles.com].)

    .

    Read and laugh.

  • You mean after 20 million years, they didn't develop machine gun flippers to protect themselves??
  • Professor Ding says based on anecdotal evidence, he remains confident the dolphins are still out there. "I'm pretty much sure there are a few of them left somewhere in the Yangtze River," he said. "I keep receiving reports from fishermen, they say they saw a couple of baiji somewhere, sometime."'"
    ... and they were delicious!
  • This unique life form is now gone forever. The lessons we could learn by studying it are now lost to eternity. Its unique role in the ecosystem is forever lost.

    We destroyed it. We literally choked the life out of it.

    Who are we to do this? Are we so confident in our superiority as to believe that a little temporary convenience to dump toxic industrial wastes is worth the complete loss of this life form?

    We were up in arms when a islamic government destroyed man made statues of buddha merely hundreds of years
    • The cool thing about being an individual is that I am only responsible for my own actions. When someone from my "race" invents something I don't claim credit just because he has the same color skin as I do. In the same way I don't beat myself up over the stupid shit other people do. Many humans are immoral and ignorant. Some are not. Everything I do myself is entirely my fault and cannot be blamed on anyone else. I have no excuses. You are only yourself. Nothing more.
    • There lives will be forever diminished because they will miss this culinary treat.
  • "I'm pretty much sure there are a few of them left somewhere in the Yangtze River," he said. "I keep receiving reports from fishermen, they say they saw a couple of baiji somewhere, sometime."'"

    Ah, alcohol. May your wonders never fail to amaze me.
  • by toby (759) * on Sunday August 12, 2007 @07:30AM (#20202233) Homepage Journal
    Not extinct yet? Check back in a few months, they'll be sure to be. But hundreds of species are on death row thanks to human greed and thoughtlessness, including the pangolin (UK Guardian) [guardian.co.uk]:

    5,000 of the world's rarest animals have been found drifting in a deserted boat near the coast of China.

    The pangolins, Asian giant turtles and lizards were crushed inside crates on a rickety wooden vessel that had lost engine power off Qingzhou island in the southern province of Guangdong. Most were alive, though the cargo also contained 21 bear paws wrapped in newspaper.

    According to conservation groups, the haul was discovered on one of the world's most lucrative and destructive smuggling routes: from the threatened jungles of south-east Asia to the restaurant tables of southern China. ...

    Despite the ban on pangolins, many restaurants offer their meat. The Chaoxing restaurant in Shenzhen said yesterday that pangolin was available but was only suitable for large dining parties.

    "The animal is very big - about 10kg," said a waitress contacted by telephone. "We serve it in hotpot. That is the tastiest way." ...

    A Guangdong chef ... described how to cook a pangolin. "We keep them alive in cages until the customer makes an order. Then we hammer them unconscious, cut their throats and drain the blood. It is a slow death. We then boil them to remove the scales."

    So while we thoughtlessly wipe out species after species, at least we treat every individual with unimaginable cruelty first. Yay humans.
    • by Detritus (11846)
      The Chinese government could stop this if they wanted to. Screw fines, seize and close any restaurant that has critically endangered wildlife on the menu. Back home, when they had problems with poaching, they changed the law to allow the game wardens to seize the vehicles of poachers. Not only did they have to pay a hefty fine, they also lost their rifle and their shiny new pickup truck. That really got their attention.
  • As countless religions keep arguing, just because you don't observe something (ie. God, unicorns) doesn't mean it does not exist.

    Y'all gotta have FAITH.

Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.

Working...