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Chinese River Dolphin
Chinese River Dolphin

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Chinese River Dolphin

Scientific Name:
Lipotes vexillifer

Other Names and/or Listed subspecies:
Baiji, Yangtze River Dolphin, Whitefin Dolphin, Chinese Lake Dolphin, and White Flag Dolphin, White Dolphin, Changjiang Dolphin

Group: Mammals

Status/Date Listed as Endangered:
EN-US FWS: May 30, 1989

CR-IUCN: 2008

Area(s) Where Listed As Endangered:

The Chinese river dolphin is only found in the Yangtze River in China and may be extinct. It has a long, narrow and slightly upcurved snout. Its skin is light bluish-gray above and white on its underside. Adults can grow up to eight feet and can weigh up to 500 lb. Females are slightly smaller than males.

The Chinese river dolphin can only thrive in freshwater. Like most aquatic animals, this species uses echolocation, a process that involves emitting sound waves that bounce off objects in the water revealing their size and distance. The dolphins use this for locating food and recognizing potential danger, such as boats. Chinese river dolphins are opportunistic feeders and eat a large variety of freshwater fish species, including eel-like catfish. They are social and have been seen in groups of up to 16 individuals. Little is known about their reproductive behavior. Females give birth to only one calf after a gestation period of six to 12 months.

Causes of decline include habitat destruction, overfishing, pollution, and accidents during heavy river traffic. Conservation efforts have generally been unsuccessful. The species is legally protected, but after a six-week scientific survey in the summer of 2007, conservationists concluded that the species may now be extinct.

Chinese River Dolphin Facts Last Updated: August 14, 2007

To Cite This Page:
Glenn, C. R. 2006. "Earth's Endangered Creatures - Chinese River Dolphin Facts" (Online).
Accessed 3/22/2017 at


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