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Porpoises Find Purpose in Poyang Lake
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A group of 20-odd Yangtze finless porpoises were discovered in Poyang Lake on March 20 by patrolling fishery staff. Poyang Lake, in Jiangxi Province, stands as China's biggest freshwater lake. The oddity of this find is due to the fact that porpoises tend to prefer smaller groups of three to five members.



Poyang Lake is a major habitat for the Yangtze finless porpoise and fishing in the lake is currently prohibited.  


The scarce rainwater leftover from last winter has taken the water levels in the Yangtze River and Poyang Lake to a dangerous low.


"This has resulted in a diminished inhabitable area for the porpoises," said Ding Guangyu, head of Xingzi County's fishery administration. "To find enough food, they have migrated toward the Xingzi section in the north of Poyang Lake where the water levels remain stable all-year round and where fish resources are relatively abundant."


According to sources from the Jiangxi fishery authorities, at least half of the porpoises living in the Yangtze River are currently living in Poyang Lake.


The porpoise is a kind of small-toothed whale, benefiting from the state's second-level species protection. Found in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, the Yangtze finless porpoise is the world's only known freshwater porpoise. Unfortunately, environmental pollution and the change in aquatic ecology have caused the Yangtze porpoises' number to drop to under 2,000 at a diminishing rate of 7.3 percent each year, placing it on the cusp of extinction.


Ding affirmed that his department staff were patrolling the lake, looking to find more porpoise schools and implement better conservation measures.


(China.org.cn by Zhang Tingting, March 30, 2007)

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