The Yangtze finless porpoise, which inhabits the high-traffic waters near the Three Gorges Dam in China, is critically endangered, with only about 1,000 animals alive today.
The Yangtze River, the longest river in Asia, used to be one of the only two rivers in the world that was home to two different species of dolphin—the Yangtze finless porpoise and the Baiji dolphin. However, in 2006 the Baiji dolphin was declared functionally extinct. This was the first time in history that an entire species of dolphin had been wiped off the planet because of human activity. Its close cousin, the Yangtze finless porpoise, is known for its mischievous smile and has a level of intelligence comparable to that of a gorilla.
Finless porpoises need an abundant food supply for survival. The destruction of the Baiji dolphin food supply was central to its extinction. Overfishing is the main factor that contributes to the decrease in finless porpoises’ food supply, but pollution and ship movement are factors as well.