To What Porpoise?
Numerous species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises are dwindling and could go extinct within the next decade, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) warns in a report released today. Take the baiji, a freshwater dolphin found only in China’s Yangtze River: Surveys taken in 1985 and 1986 estimated the total population of the species to be around 300, but surveys between 1997 and 1999 counted only 21 to 23 of the animals. Other highly troubled cetacean species include the vaquita porpoise of the Gulf of California, the northern hemisphere right whale, and the Ganges/Indus River dolphin. “Cetacean diversity, like all biodiversity worldwide, is crumbling, so we must redouble our efforts,” said William Perrin, one of the report’s authors. IUCN recommends, among other things, specific changes to fishing equipment that can harm or kill cetaceans.