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NNU Yangtze finless porpoise expedition set sail

On 12th April, a Yangtze finless porpoise expedition team led by Nanjing Normal University School of Life Sciences and other research institutions set sail. Over 40 people attended the launching ceremony, including NNU Vice President Lixin Tian, chairman of Nanjing Agriculture Commission Zhongyou Fang, deputy inspector of Jiangsu Ocean and Fisheries Bureau Zhiliang Fei, members of Nanjing Yangtze Finless Porpoise Preserve, Nanjing Fisheries Science Institute and Nanjing Yangtze Finless Porpoise Conservation Association, and the volunteers from NNU School of Life Sciences.

Professor Guang Yang, Dean of NNU School of Life Sciences and chairman of Nanjing Yangtze Finless Porpoise Conservation Association, is the leader of the expedition team. Teams led by Professor Guang Yang have conducted in-depth long-term researches on cetaceans from the aspects of ecology, genetics and evolution and conservation biology.

"This expedition aims at finding out current population status of Yangtze finless porpoise in Nanjing branch of Yangtze River and gaining a deep understanding of the number, distribution, regularity of activity, habitat quality, selection and utilization of Yangtze finless porpoise, aquatic living resources and human activities in preserve. Collecting those basic data will help to formulate and implement targeted protective and management measures."Professor Guang Yang said.

The team will carry out its 2-year research project 2 to 3 times a week from this month on, one of which would be at least 6 hours in length. Besides traditional survey methods of cetaceans such as route survey, fixed-point observation and questionnaire, many new techniques will be used in this expedition.

"For example, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) aerial photography will help us gain comprehensive and accurate understanding about the population quantity, distribution, features of activity, behavior pattern and population structure ofYangtze finless porpoise.” Professor Guang Yang said.

Previous monitoring shows that there may be a stable Yangtze finless porpoise population living in Nanjing branch of Yangtze River, but little is known about its current status and development trend. This expedition is by far the biggest and the most comprehensive scientific expedition of cetaceans in Nanjing branch of Yangtze River and its findings will be of great importance to further scientific protection and effective management of Yangtze finless porpoise.

At present, Yangtze finless porpoise population is faced with increasingly severe survival crisis. As the only freshwater finless porpoise around the world, Yangtze finless porpoise population is scarcer than the giant panda. According to previous surveys, there are less than a thousand Yangtze finless porpoises in the Yangtze River. Yangtze finless porpoise population has a short and round snout which looks like it is always smiling, high intelligence equivalent to gorilla but alow reproduction rate with only one calf of each birth.

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