Baiji Scientific Classification
KingdomAnimaliaPhylumChordataClassMammaliaOrderCetartiodactylaFamilyLipotidaeGenusLiptodesScientific NameLiptodes vexillifer
Baiji Conservation Status
PreyYellow catfish, carp, copper fishGroup Behavior
Fun FactBaijis use echolocation to find food in the Yangtze River.Estimated Population SizeUnknownBiggest ThreatCommercial fishing nets, habitat lossMost Distinctive FeatureA long, upturned noseOther Name(s)Yangtze dolphin, white fin, white flagGestation Period6-12 monthsWater Type
HabitatRiverDietCarnivoreTypeCetaceanCommon NameBaijiNumber Of Species6
Baiji Physical Characteristics
Skin TypeSkinTop Speed37 mphLifespan24 yearsWeight368 lbsLength7.5-8.5 feet
Click through all of our Baiji images in the gallery.Previous
Find your favorite Animals!Search
The baiji is sometimes called the Yangtze dolphin, the White fin or the White flag.
The baiji is an animal that lives in the Yangtze River in China. There are believed to be very few baiji left in existence. Its official conservation status is Critically Endangered, but some scientists believe they are extinct.
3 Incredible Baiji Facts!
• Swallowing prey: The baiji has 30 to 36 sharp teeth. But, instead of chewing small fish and other prey, they swallow them whole.
• Echolocation: This mammal has very poor vision. It uses echolocation or sound waves to find schools of fish and other prey.
• Dolphin in jeopardy: This mammal is Critically Endangered and possibly extinct. For decades, it was unintentionally caught in commercial fishing nets. When these mammals are caught in fishing nets they cannot come up for air.
Baiji Classification and Scientific Name
The scientific name of the baiji is Lipotes vexillifer. Lipotes is Latin meaning left behind, and vexillifer is a Latin word meaning flag bearer.
The baiji is also known as the Yangtze dolphin, the white fin or the white flag. It’s the only member of the lipotidae family and is in the Mammalia class.
Baiji are one of six species known as river dolphins. The others include:
• Ganges River dolphin
• Amazon River dolphin
• Araguaian River dolphin
• Bolivian River dolphin
• La Plata River dolphin
The baiji is Critically Endangered. Scientists disagree on how many are left in existence. Some scientists believe there may be 10 or fewer while other scientists believe them to be extinct.
Most of these mammals live in the open ocean. But the baiji or White fin is known as a river dolphin due to its specific habitat. Other notable examples include:
• Bolivian River dolphin: This freshwater river dolphin is a little bigger than the baiji. Bolivian River dolphins can grow as long as 9ft and weigh just under 400lbs. Their existence is also under threat due to commercial fishing activity in the Bolivian River.
• La Plata dolphin: This species lives in freshwater as well as saltwater estuaries. It’s smaller than the baiji. The La Plata dolphin grows to be 5.9ft. long and weighs 110lbs at the most.
• Ganges River dolphin: This freshwater dolphin’s behavior is similar to the baiji in that it hunts prey by echolocation. But the estimated population of this dolphin ranges between 1,200-1,800.
A baiji is an animal with a bluish gray back and a white underside. They have 30 to 36 sharp teeth on their upper and lower jaws. A baiji has one stomach that’s divided into three chambers whereas most dolphins have two stomachs. Their nose is long and beaklike. They have rounded fins that allow them to move swiftly through river water. Baijis range in length from 7.5 to 8.5 feet. They weigh around 360 pounds.
Their coloration allows them to blend in with their river habitat. The ability to swim very fast is another defensive feature of this dolphin. The fastest a baiji can swim is 37mph.
Baiji Distribution, Population and Habitat
The baiji lives in the Yangtze River in China. They are freshwater dolphins. Their hunting behavior includes finding prey on both the floor of the river as well as in shallow areas. The estimated population is anywhere from 10 of these dolphins to none. This is why their official conservation status is Critically Endangered. Some scientists believe they are an extinct species.
This mammal is critically endangered for a few reasons. For decades, these dolphins were (unintentionally) captured in the nets of commercial fisherman and died. Also, water pollution from growing industries and deforestation in China has severely threatened the habitat of this dolphin.
Today, laws have been put in place to protect any remaining baiji dolphins in the Yangtze River. The same laws that protect the baiji also cover another threatened species known as the Yangtze finless porpoise.
Baiji Predators and Prey
Humans are the only predators of baiji dolphins though they are not eaten by people.
The conservation status of baijis is Critically Endangered.
Baiji Reproduction and Lifespan
Breeding season is in the spring and summer for the baiji dolphin. Though not much is known about their mating rituals, scientists know the gestation period of a female ranges from 6 to 12 months. She gives live birth to 1 baby also known as a calf.
The mother dolphin nurses her calf, teaches it how to swim as well as how to rise to the surface for air. A calf may nurse until the age of 18 months old. At that time, the mother dolphin begins to teach her calf how to hunt for small fish. A calf may stay with its mother for 3 to 6 years before becoming independent.
Male baijis become sexually mature at 6 years of age while females are sexually mature at 4 years old. One of the most interesting facts about this mammal is they can live to be 24 years old.
Baiji in Fishing and Cooking
It’s true that dolphin meat is a delicacy in some countries such as Japan. But baijis are not plentiful enough for humans to hunt and eat. Plus, they are now protected by law.