On December 12, 2006, biologists declared the baiji (Chinese river dolphin) "functionally extinct." The international authority on endangered species (the IUCN) classifies the baiji as “critically endangered,” although there have been no confirmed baiji sightings in recent years.

Baiji were freshwater dolphins, one of only four known species. They were indigenous to China's Yangtze River. Their numbers fell from more than 6,000 in the 1950s to about 400 by 1984. Factors contributing to their extinction include fishing, dams, and industrial pollution.

biologist
Noun

scientist who studies living organisms.

dam
Noun

structure built across a river or other waterway to control the flow of water.

Noun

organism threatened with extinction.

extinct
Adjective

no longer existing.

factor
Noun

element contributing to an event or outcome.

fish
Verb

to catch or harvest fish.

freshwater
Adjective

having to do with a habitat or ecosystem of a lake, river, or spring.

Adjective

characteristic to or of a specific place.

industrial
Adjective

having to do with factories or mechanical production.

International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Noun

environmental organization concerned with preserving natural ecosystems and habitats.

Noun

introduction of harmful materials into the environment.

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