All wet again: The Island allows one to be close to mountains and sea. A dolphin I've been watching has been expecting for some time. (Their gestation period is 12 months.) I was hoping to give some happy news, but the calf was stillborn this week. Unfortunately that happens to dolphins too. It is very sad, but the dolphins are taking it better than the humans.
My friend is 9 feet long and weighs about 500 pounds. The round forehead, which we call the melon, is shaped that way to transmit sound signals. Those signals are received via the beak, which allows dolphins to determine echo direction. The forehead is filled with a waxy substance. From observations of dolphins this physicist has theorised that the sperm whale's huge oil reservoir, which also occupies the forehead, aids in low-frequency sonar.
An expedition led by millionaire August Pfluger is searching China's Yangtze River for the Baiji, a white dolphin that may already be extinct. The Baiji first moved into the Yangtze about 20 million years ago, one of the oldest dolphin species. In the muddy river waters they developed an elongated snout to better locate sonar echoes. The Yangtze was once home to elephants, alligators, sturgeon and abundant wildlife. Today uncontrolled development has made the river a dead zone, unable even to support fish. In 1997 there were estimnated to be just 17 Baiji left. Pfluger and comapany may find none today.
Dolphins have been sited in the Thames since the 1980's. The Western world has moved beyond industrialisation and become more mindful of the Earth. The Chinese Alligator and Yangtze River Sturgeon are endangered. China's price for rapid industrialisation may be the loss of species.