32 Rare Porpoises Found Dead in China

Species' survival in doubt


The deaths in China of 32 Yangtze finless porpoises over the past two months is fueling fears among conservationists that the endangered marine mammal may be headed for extinction. The porpoises, of which only an estimated 1,000 remain in the wild, are under pressure from pollution and food shortages caused by the construction of hydroelectric dams along the Yangtze; at least two of the animals recovered were killed by electrofishing or boat propellers. A 2007 report by China’s State Environmental Protection Administration found that 30 percent of the river’s tributaries were badly polluted. The International Union for Conservation of Nature is currently considering whether to declare the Yangtze porpoises critically endangered.