Nearly 500 Yangtze finless porpoises recorded in China’s Poyang lake

NANCHANG, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) — Nearly 500 Yangtze finless porpoises have been detected in Poyang Lake in east China’s Jiangxi Province, according to the results of a recent survey released by the provincial forestry department.

With its mouth fixed in a permanent “grin”, the rotund finless porpoise is known in China as a “smiling angel.”

The endangered species, known as the “giant panda of the water,” is a barometer of the ecological environment in the Yangtze River basin.

The survey was conducted in the areas of Poyang Lake where finless porpoises are active, the western waters of the Yangtze River, and Gan River. Poyang Lake is China’s largest freshwater lake.

“The 10-year fishing ban that has taken effect in all key waters of the Yangtze helps the country’s longest waterway recover from dwindling aquatic resources and degrading biodiversity,” said an official with the Poyang Lake National Nature Reserve Administration Bureau, adding that the local government’s efforts and the awareness of local people have played important roles.

In recent years, China has stepped up efforts to protect its ecology and biodiversity. In 2017, it was estimated that a total of 1,012 finless porpoises were living in Chinese waters.

Source: Xinhua – 17 Aug 2021

Two Yangtze finless porpoises are seen at the Yichang section of the Yangtze River, central China’s Hubei Province, May 10, 2021. Photo provided by Xinhua.

WUHAN, May 11, 2021 (Xinhua) — The freshwater porpoise with no dorsal fin is native to China and has lived here for 25 million years. They are the only freshwater subspecies of the finless porpoise family and pulse through the middle and lower main streams of the Yangtze River. With its mouth fixed in a permanent “grin”, the rotund finless porpoise is known in China as a “smiling angel.”

The population of the aquatic mammal experienced a sharp decrease over the past decades due to overfishing and excessive human activities.

The latest research on finless porpoise conducted by the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs in 2017 showed that there was a wild population of just 1,012 still navigating the twists and turns of the longest river in Asia, even fewer than the giant panda.

The annual decline of its population was 13.7 percent in the 2006-2012 period, while the drop slowed to 10 percent between 2012-2017.

“However, the species is still extremely endangered at present, and the country needs to enhance protection for Yangtze finless porpoises,” said Yu Kangzhen, vice minister of agricultural and rural affairs at the press conference of the 2017 survey, citing measures including regular inspections, promoting ex situ conservation and researching artificial breeding.

In January 2018, a fishing ban was implemented in 83 aquatic nature reserves across Hubei to restore the ecological environment and protect the endangered species in the Yangtze River basin.

To further preserve biodiversity along the river, China in January 2020 implemented a full fishing ban in 332 conservation areas in the Yangtze River basin. The move has later been expanded to a 10-year moratorium for the river’s main streams and major tributaries from Jan. 1, 2021.

On Feb. 4, 2021, China revised its list of endangered wild animals, elevating the conservation of 65 types of wild animals, including the Yangtze finless porpoise, to the strictest level-one protection from second-highest.

The slew of measures has brought the “smiling angels” back into the limelight. Staff at the local fishery administration in Yichang even filmed footage of the finless porpoise hunting fish shoal recently, the first such scene they have ever shot.

“Such a scene indicates that the population of finless porpoise is recovering,” said a staffer.

Source: Xinhua, May 11, 2021