12 Endangered Yangtze River Dolphins Found Dead in Past Month

Endangered Yangtze river dolphins found dead in Hunan.

Endangered Yangtze river dolphins found dead in Hunan.

On the heels of a Chinese White Dolphin sighting in Guangdong, and not to be confused with the presumably already extinct Baiji river dolphin (again, another species), news has been released concerning an additional species of river dolphin (in Chinese 江豚 jiāngtún) that is in danger of becoming extinct.

From NetEase:

12 River Dolphins Found Dead Over 40 Days in Hunan’s Dongting Lake

From March 3rd until April 15th, 12 river dolphins were discovered dead one after another in Dongting Lake in Hunan Province’s Yueyang City. In the entire Yangtze River basin, only around 1,200 of this species remain, to the point that its numbers are even less than China’s “National Treasure”, the giant panda. Apart from Dongting Lake, Poyang Lake has also recently found river dolphins dead, with autopsies revealing that most of these river dolphins shared a common characteristic: There was no food to be found in their digestive systems.

Endangered Yangtze river dolphins found dead in Hunan.

Every April/May is this “National Treasure” river dolphin’s most active and most vigorous season. However, this year from March 3rd to April 15th over 12 dolphins have been found dead. It is reported that the river dolphin has been included in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as a second level protected animal, and has been called the Yangtze River’s “living fossil” and “water giant panda”.

Endangered Yangtze river dolphins found dead in Hunan.

Experts say, this many protected species dying in such a short amount of time is unprecedented in the ecological history of the Yangtze River. The present high rate of death signifies that the river dolphin might be the Yangtze River Basin’s primary population faced with extinction.

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Endangered Yangtze river dolphins found dead in Hunan.

As autopsies have uncovered, these dead river dolphins had one problem in common: there was no food remaining in their digestive tract. Although the precise cause of death remains uncertain, expert analysis has uncovered three possible causes of death: infectious disease, poisoning, or starvation.

Endangered Yangtze river dolphins found dead in Hunan.

April 14th, Hunan province Yueyang city river dolphin protection volunteers bring a dead river dolphin onto shore from the area of the Dongting Lake south of the Dongting Lake Bridge.

Comments from NetEase:

芙小小 [网易吉林省四平市网友]:

Dongting lake has died of old age. Over ten thousand years of “the land of fish and rice” seems to be ancient history now.

hj660925 [网易新疆乌鲁木齐市网友]:

It’s the Three Gorges, the Three Gorges, the monumentally shameful achievement of ignorant interest groups!!!

网易广东省网友 [本地小白] (responding to above):

Until the countless “foreign” vampires have sucked out the last drop of blood!

头上三尺有神马 [网易山东省临沂市网友] (responding to above):

Village level cadres [government officials] drink yellow alcohol [mulled wine], speak yellow words [obscenities], watch yellow discs [pornography]; County level cadres drink white alcohol [baijiu], touch white legs [prostitution], write white slips [IOU’s]; City level cadres drink red alcohol [wine], kiss red lips [mistresses], receive red envelopes [hongbao]; Provincial level cadres drink foreign alcohol, drive foreign cars, keep foreign girls; The cadres above them they drink famous wine, speak famous words [sayings], fuck famous celebrities; The ordinary commoners drink pi jiu [beer], listen to pi hua [farts, bullshit, nonsense], are pi min [lowly rabble].

芙小小 [网易吉林省四平市网友]:

The 12 river dolphins sympathized with Professor Huang Wanli‘s loneliness, so went to visit him, don’t feel sad.

乐山王志华 [网易四川省乐山市网友]:

On this piece of land [China], both people and animals, have sad fates…

愤怒小牛 [网易广东省手机网友]:

When will the age of rampant unbridled government officials die out?

金明焱 [网易辽宁省沈阳市网友]:

Today it’s the river dolphin, what will it be tomorrow?

跟帖局小刘 [网易湖南省岳阳市网友]:

Welcome all netizens to visit beautiful Yueyang!!! I’ll treat you to Chinese sturgeon~~~


Undoubtedly poisoned, caused by the emissions and discharge of today’s unscrupulous corporations!


[Dolphins], you go [die] first! We’ll be right behind you!

侃侃老衲 [网易美国网友] (responding to above):

In your next life, hope to be reincarnated in the Mississippi River.

Written by Joel

Joel is a reclusive writer based in Shanghai who took up blogging as a hobby one summer and never looked back. Former editor of Shanghaiist.

  • roflstomp

    Oh my lady sofa…

    • roflstomp

      This just in, nasty ass polluted Chinese waters don’t support life!

    • mankouzanghua

      Yo ancestors are so meme-crazy they left ass grooves in a stone sofa

  • Jeff

    Maybe they drank the water. That will kill anything.

  • MonkeyMouth

    showing us again, humanity’s fatal flaw. greed.

    • eattot

      hahaha, your name is so funny!

      • Brett Hunan

        +1. I love this post

      • hooots

        haha we love you eattot.

      • Mao Ze Shenme Dong Dong

        Eattot – A shining example of what is wrong with the world.

    • Bruce Tutty

      humanity?….this is happening in China, not the whole world.

      • Brett Hunan

        Google “Gulf oil spill deformed sea life”

  • [email protected]

    If Chinese wont even care about each other, or value their own lives, how can we expect them to not destroy their landscapes and kill their wildlife. You gotta learn to crawl before you can walk.

  • Winterbitten

    Kinda surprised they didn’t mention finding the animals with cuts of meat missing…

    • Jahar

      Ah, I was just gonna ask why they don’t eat them.

  • yesyes

    Good for mans health!!!

    Good soaking in formaldihyde will kill any bacteria!!!!

    No scrap wasted!!!!

    “How’s it taste Little Weiner?”

    “Good good!!! I can feel my little brother gaining energy as I eat. How about you Big Pu?”

    “Yes yes, very good!!! Very good very good!! I like it best stirred fried with garlic. Little Weiner, tell your laowai friend we don’t need those blue pills for awhile – there’re so damned expensive.”

    “I already did. He was unhappy too, his face hung down like one of my wife’s floppy tits, hahahaha!!! He said he no longer do business with us, cut us off for good.”

    “No matter Little Weiner, we have lots of dead dolphin to fry with garlic. Eat eat!”

    “Big Pu.”

    “Yes Little Weiner.”

    “My little brother is hard now. I’m afraid if I don’t use it immediately then it might go away.”

    “Ok. Go have fun.”

    “Big Pu.”

    “Yes Little Weiner.”

    “How was the Mei Mei you had yesterday?”

    “She smelled a little but was obedient.”

    • mr. wiener

      A relative of mine? Nono.
      Besides which I would never put dolphin in a sausage. An interesting post, but kinda surreal.

      • [email protected]

        Like something written by Cormac McCarthy. If that is, he were Chinese, and on meth.

  • lonetrey

    -sigh- Those poor dolphins. :(

  • donscarletti

    Lots of Japanese in Shanghai, Japanese have been known to kill dolphins. I suggest a pogrom.

    • I for one would like to Chinese pollute vietnam greece India or Somalia instead of the already heavy polluted Shangtze.

      • mr. wiener

        How is that going to help?

        • donscarletti

          Ever watched Captain Planet?

      • Bruce Tutty

        Its China’s crap, you deal with it.

  • Vincent

    Do you think that those species can still be saved in any way?
    it always break my heart to see an animal on the verge of disappearing; they have been peacefully owning those rivers for thousands of years, and now, just in a couple of years they are almost eradicated.
    We really are the worst parasite on this planet.

    • Chinkicide

      Do you think you can stop trying save them?

      “We really are the worst parasite on this planet.”
      Oh, you are a chinese… I see. Forget it then.

      • Vincent

        lol what?
        my question was really genuine, i was wondering if the specie was already doomed (like it is the case for many other animal around the world) and if there was still some hope to save it, and if yes, in which way.

        And no, i am not Chinese, when i said “we” i referred to humans in general, because unfortunately that kind of problem happens everywhere, not only in China.

        • yesyes


        • roflstomp

          Get real, China is horrible in how it treats the Earth and it’s inhabitants (animals and humans included).

        • Chinkicide

          I see, I take it back then. But do not confuse the chinese with humans next time.

          Also, I disagree with the “happens everywhere” idea. “Happens where the chinese are” more proper.

        • Bruce Tutty

          No, it happens in countries that care more about money, than their people or their future.

  • Chinkicide

    Still need more proof? The filthy cancer of the world destroys us and everything. Join to the righteousness war, Sacred Cleansing, before it’s too late.

  • bscalled

    is that the natural color of the dolphins? they look very dirty, like they are stained or something.

    • Brett Hunan

      I am not a marine expert by any means but I think some mammals will become “burnt” after prolonged sun exposure.

      Maybe they are just “stained” though.

  • andywattbulb

    I heard that the water is really nice to swim in.

  • hooots

    “expert analysis has uncovered three possible causes of death: infectious disease, poisoning, or starvation”

    Fucking Genius!


    • Bruce Tutty

      Well it wasn’t killed by poachers or fishermen, it didn’t get lost and beach itself…basically no obvious physical harm, which leaves the options they stated.

  • aflame

    Most major rivers of SEA countries run through China, the Chinese have been polluting them for years already.

  • Foreign Devil

    I don’t know if it is because of decay. . but the dolphin corpses look discolored and nasty. .
    Building the world’s largest dam just might have something to do with disturbing the food chain no?
    Add to that all the toxic effluent from industry that pours into that river from so many places. . requiring only some little bribes to keep polluting. This is a country that hires thugs to beat the shit out of nosy environmentalists.. that views environmentalists as terrorists. You also have fertilizers, pesticides and human waste pouring into that cesspool. Surprised there are even any dolphins left in there.

    • Bruce Tutty

      Karma, you get what you ask for or just accept and allow to happen.

  • typingfromwork

    Habitat destruction… such a sad sight to see.

    If only they’d invest one tenth the amount of money on the pandas to protect these magnificent animals. But river dolphins don’t make good toys and closing off a remote mountain range is much cheaper than having properly enforced regulations on a river.

    • Little Wolf

      Lucky for pandas that they’re cute or they’d be extinct a long time ago. Course I’m stating the obvious.

      I hate myself so much right now :(

    • Bruce Tutty

      No, but they carry huge respect, the kind that China would receive if it managed to save and sustain them

      This is because they are one of the few animals that will come up and greet humans on equal terms. Although these ones are probably a lot more cautious.

      Whales and Dolphins have an almost spiritual value for many around the world, because we share emotional states. Because of this they represent the best of what people could do for our planet, or the worse.

      Which is why the Japanese and Norwegian whaling fleets are hated by the majority of the world that is aware enough to consider such things.

  • TrayBgone

    Better to eat it fresh, but that one looks spoilt. Can’t they be farmed?

  • Mikecheck

    These are actually finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides) and the ones in the Yangtze are really special as they are the only ones that live in freshwater. My guess is they committed suicide to escape the hell of living in the giant open cesspool that is the Yangtze River.

  • Notorious

    Without sounding like a nihilist, human beings are the most destructive animals on this planet. Every species seems to work in tandem with the planet, creating balance whereas the presence of mankind seems to throw the world and environment into inbalance.

  • chris

    wish we could just nuke china off the map.

  • Greg

    God theres even comments above blaming foreigners for the dolphins dying, Is China such a country full of victims!

  • LC

    Those are definitely porpoises, not dolphins.

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  • stevies

    They look disgusting when the are dead.

    • chichachachi

      Its skin has rotted off. What looks lovely when dead and rotting? Have you seen human beings when they bloat and rot? Check out the body farm.

  • Why would they all die so….? oh! because Chinese love their country and 5000 years of culture so much that they dump the most toxic shit and trash, everything you can think of , and everything you can’t, into the river. Cause once its in the river, its not your problem anymore. Brilliant.

  • malildude

    what species of dolphin are those pictures? They look like finless porpoises not dolphins.

  • trouse

    what can you expect with them? they have their resources already but don’t even know how to take care of them & still they want more.