A survey late last year found that the Yangtze finless porpoise (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis asiaeorientalis) population has been cut in half in just six years. During a 44-day survey, experts estimated 1,000 river porpoises inhabited the river and adjoining lakes, down from around 2,000 in 2006.
The ecology of China's Yangtze River has been decimated the Three Gorges Dam, ship traffic, pollution, electrofishing, and overfishing, making it arguably the world's most degraded major river. These environmental tolls have already led to the likely extinction of the Yangtze river dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer), or baiji, and possibly the Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius), which is one of the world's longest freshwater fish.
"The [Yangtze finless porpoise ] is moving fast toward its extinction," said Wang Ding, head of the research expedition, with the Institute of Hydrobiology (IHB) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. IHB organized the expedition along with China's Ministry of Agriculture, the Wuhan Baiji Conservation Fund, and WWF-China.