Tales of the baiji's demise may have been much exaggerated. Apparently, video has appeared of a rare Yangtze river dolphin--potentially the last of its kind--though the video is bad enough for the identification to be suspect. Scientists plan to search the spot of sighting in September and interviews with local fishermen continue.
If true, or if other baiji surface, this would be good news--to a point. While a lingering survivor or two is a shot in the arm for conservation efforts of the "goddess of the Yangtze," the animal is still considered functionally extinct because there are simply not enough of them to create a viable breeding population.
The baiji's sole remaining hope is some kind of technological intervention, such as a cloning program, especially given the continuing deterioration of its habitat on China's largest river. But this might just give a species of dolphin that has been living on Earth for 20 million years a few more to tack on to that record.
The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
David Biello is a contributing editor at Scientific American.