Baiji dolphins are known by many aliases, including Chinese river dolphins, whitefin dolphins and goddesses of the Yangtze. With their sleek build and graceful swimming ability, it is easy to see why they would be nicknamed "goddesses." These highly intelligent animals often form deep bonds with the other dolphins they spend their lives with.
The Baiji dolphin's appearance features some very different characteristics compared with those of common dolphins usually seen swimming the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. A Baiji dolphin features the same sleek, long body and round flippers. One feature that instantly sets this dolphin apart is his eyes, which are located higher on his head than most species of dolphins. While the Baiji dolphin is painted in the same bluish-grey color that many other dolphins have, he has a white belly. His long, thin snout curves up ever so slightly at the end. He can reach up to 8 feet in length and weigh more than 500 pounds. Female Baiji dolphins are usually bigger than males.
Baiji dolphins can exist in freshwater, unlike many other dolphin species. They are exclusively found in the Yangtze River in China. Since this is their sole place of residence, many feel that creating measures to conserve and protect this species of dolphin is important. The Yangtze River's heavy commercial fishing has injured and killed many dolphins as well as placed their main food source at risk. The Yangtze River is also very polluted. Many believe that Baiji dolphins are functionally extinct, but some individuals claim they have seen specimens. A few Baiji dolphins live in captivity.
Baiji dolphins have much more shy, coy personalities than other dolphin species. They are quiet, peaceful animal who often live in small groups or pairs, unlike other dolphin species, who commonly live in pods. Some Baiji dolphins have lived in groups of up to 10. Baiji dolphins spend a lot of time beneath the water's surface communicating with one another. They are able to communicate by making clicking noises or by whistling.
An array of different kinds of fish make up the staple of Baiji dolphins' diet. With their long beaks, they are able to forage for food in crevices and at the bottom of the ocean. Feeding and hunting for food takes place during daylight hours. They will dive for food for around 10 to 20 seconds per dive. Their eyesight doesn't lend itself to helping out when on the hunt for food, as it's not so good. However, their natural sonar, also called their echolocation, makes up for their poor eyesight when in search of food.