Skip to content
All articles
  • All articles
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Fundraising
  • Green Whale
  • Prevent bycatch
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Stop whaling
The Codfather being good with Anvil kick feeding right next to them_0761 branded

Spout Spotters: Boater Safety Around Whales Online Course Launches

After countless hours behind the computer, bountiful snacks, and a few stress relieving walks with...
WDC team at UN Ocean conference

Give the ocean a chance – our message from the UN Ocean Conference

I'm looking out over the River Tejo in Lisbon, Portugal, reflecting on the astounding resilience...
65556ab2635fdab7b4e12265b9623d64

Stream to Sea: Orca Action Month 2022

This June was an exceptionally busy and exciting Orca Month, starting with a somewhat surprising...
We need whale poo 📷 WDC NA

Whales are our climate allies – meet the scientists busy proving it

At Whale and Dolphin Conservation, we're working hard to bring whales and the ocean into...

It’s Time To Breach The Snake River Dams

The Snake River dams were controversial even before they were built.  While they were still...
Save the whale. Save the world.

Climate giants – how whales can help save the world

We know that whales, dolphins, and porpoises are amazing beings with complex social and family...
Nat Geo for Disney+ Luis Lamar

Five Facts About Orcas

Orcas, also known as killer whales, are one of the most recognizable and popular species...
Alexi Archer cropped

Meet the 2022 Interns: Alexi Archer

I am thrilled to welcome Alexi to WDC as the newest member of our Marine...

Number of species of cetacean now extinct 2 (?) – China 0

Despite being declared a Chinese “national treasure” and being protected since 1975, the world looked on in sorrow when the baiji (otherwise known as the Yangtze river dolphin) was declared extinct in 2007. The baiji, the first species of cetacean to become extinct at the hands of mankind but sadly, very likely not the last. 

With the baiji gone, only one species of cetacean is now found in the Yangtze River, the finless porpoise. Although currently listed as a sub-species of the narrow-ridged finless porpoise, the Yangtze finless porpoise (N. a. asiaeorientalis) is the only freshwater porpoise in the world and some scientists believe it should in fact be considered a species in its own right. 

As with the baiji, the major threats facing these animals are incidental mortality in fishing gear, vessel strikes, pollution and industrial development, and as with the baiji, unless immediate action is taken by the Chinese Government, they too will become extinct before long.

In recent years there has been a massive and rapid decline in their number, a crash of approximately 52% between 1991 and 2006, and unfortunately the steady decline is continuing, which has led the IUCN to upgrade the Yangtze finless porpoise to Critically Endangered – one step away from extinct.

What makes this even more depressing is that in the years that China have sat back and watched their endemic wild species disappear and decline, dolphinariums have increased at an alarming rate. In the past 8 years, 39 marine parks have opened their doors, and between them they have over 315 animals in captivity – 72 beluga whales and 243 other individuals of various dolphin and porpoise species – the majority of which have been taken from the wild, ripped from their families to entertain the very people who did nothing to save their wild counterparts.

And if that’s not bad enough – some are citing that the only way to “save” the Yangtze finless porpoise will be to remove them from the wild and place them in captive breeding facilities. A very sad state of affairs as you can almost guarantee that they will never see the wild again – and especially not if China don’t take steps to clean up their existing habitat and reduce the threats they face.

How many more species need to go extinct before Governments wake up and realise that steps need to be taken, and now, or we’ll continue to lose species after species. New zealand are you listening? Will the New Zealand dolphin (includes both the Hector’s and Maui’s dolphin) be next?