Fifteen years ago I read a book called “Last Chance To See,” by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine. It’s a nonfiction work; basically the two men got to talking one day about all the major animal species that were teetering on the brink of extinction. They decided to travel around the world and see some of these animals for themselves, before it was too late for anyone to ever see them again. Depressing subject, very engaging book. I read it in my hammock, in my hideout, surrounded by nature’s wild beauty, and I found myself profoundly moved by the stories of all those vanishing lives.
Today during supper Luke was asking about all the different ways the earth is being polluted, which got me thinking about one of the most heartwrenching chapters in that book: the story of the baiji, or Yangtze River Dolphin.
The authors described in unflinching detail the hellish life these pink (!) dolphins endured in one of the most polluted and overtrafficked rivers in the world. I think the plight of the baiji affected me more deeply than anything else in the book. I was telling the kids about them, and they wanted to see a picture of one. There were no baiji photos in the book, so I hopped online and Googled them.
And learned that the Yangtze River Dolphin was declared officially extinct last summer. Gone forever, no more baiji.