Bye-Bye, Baiji.

Posted Posted in animals, travel

One of my favorite weird animals appears to have checked out, after 30 million years of rocking freshwater rivers in China, which means they watched us stand up and walk 3 million years ago. There were 20 recorded in 1993, 7 spotted in 1998, but this year, the Yangtze river dolphin appears to be extinct.

I am sorry to see us lose our first whale species to human pollution, fishing, and sonic interference.

Douglas Adams, who unfortunately is also extinct, wrote extensively about about this dolphin in his book on endangered species,  talks about their intelligence in the Hitchhiker series.

“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy


He’s called Baiji when he’s at home. The Chinese believe the Yangtze river dolphin to be an incarnation of a drowned princess. Although she did not drown, I think they look a lot like Princess Diana.

Sure, they’re frequently albino. Sure, they have small, strange-looking eyes, and are mostly blind from knocking around in the murky, polluted river for the last thousand years. Sure, they think that dead aliens are in our blood, screwing up our life and relationships. Are they really so different from Edgar Winter? And yet, he survives.