Friday, May 02, 2008

New species of dolphin identified

Freshwater dolphins are, on the whole, a rare and interesting group, having abandoned the seas dolphins have adapted to so well in favor of inland waters. Now there's a new one. The Bolivian river dolphin (Inia boliviensis) has been identified as a species of its own, rather than a population of the Amazon pink river dolphin, or boto (Inia geoffrensis). In Bolivia, the Prefecture of the Department of Beni, in the northeastern region of the country, celebrated by declaring the animal "a Natural Heritage."
All rivber dolphins are of concern to conservationists, and the baiji or Yangtze River dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer) is likely extinct. Fernando Trujillo of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) warns: "River dolphins are amongst the most endangered of all whale and dolphin species. The pressures on them are immense, as was highlighted by the recent news of the extinction of the baiji in Asia. Urgent action is needed if we are to prevent Amazon River dolphins from suffering the same fate."

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