In a surprise move, the white-flag dolphin came out of extinction to perform some acrobatics for a Chinese factory owner (is there any other kind?) with a digital camera. This was particularly notable as the dolphin was declared “most likely extinct” by a Chinese scientist just a week ago, which was instantly translated to “definitively extinct” by media outlets throughout the world. Now officially categorized as “not so extinct,” the dolphin is still almost certainly “practically extinct” but the sighting does provide a sliver of hope. The media outlets rush to publish has brought international attention (more so) to the plight of the dolphin and, while the outpouring of sympathy for the Yangtze River resident was admirable, maybe it will now be followed by an even more admirable outpouring of cash.
The “big white animal” was filmed in the river on August 19 and the footage was analyzed by the Institute of Hydrobiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The white-flag dolphin, unique to China’s Yangtze River, is listed as one of the 12 most endangered species in the world. Its population dropped to below 150 in the early 1990s from around 400 a decade earlier.
A team of 25 scientists from China, the United States, Britain, Japan, Germany and Switzerland failed to find any white-flag dolphin during a 38-day search last year. However, this siting has prompted calls for another expedition. Hopefully, the elusive cetacean will pull a Tupac and continue to produce “new footage” even if it is again pronounced “a little bit extinct.”