Why the Yangtze Finless Porpoise should be relocated to an aquarium?

source:《Science and Technology Daily》2021-06-01 11:43:30 published

The Yangtze finless porpoise is the flagship species of aquatic biological protection in the Yangtze River Basin. The population is extremely endangered, with only 1000 left.

This year, the Ministry of agriculture and rural areas organized and implemented the largest ex situ conservation action for Yangtze finless porpoises. A total of 19 Yangtze finless porpoises were exported from the old channel of Tian'e Island, and moved to seven conservation sites, namely, Tianezhou scientific research base, hewangmiao scientific research base, Laowan old road, Jiajiang in Tongling reserve, Changlong ocean kingdom in Zhuhai, and Haichang Ocean Park in Shanghai.

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Why move the Yangtze finless porpoise into the aquarium?

"Aquarium is the best place for popular science education. The high international recognition, large scientific research investment and good protection effect of giant panda are inseparable from its numerous popular science education bases. Therefore, popular science education of Yangtze finless porpoise in aquarium can let more people know the Yangtze finless porpoise at a close distance, let decision-makers at all levels know more about the finless porpoise, and then actively participate in the protection of the Yangtze finless porpoise. " Li Yanliang, President of aquatic wildlife protection branch of China Wildlife Protection Association, said in an interview on May 17.

Xu Pao, director of the Freshwater Fisheries Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences, said that the ex situ conservation action is based on the relevant action plans and protection plans issued and implemented by the state, and under the leadership of the Yangtze River Basin Fisheries Administration Office of the Ministry of agriculture and rural areas, and organized and coordinated by the aquatic wildlife protection branch of the China Wildlife Protection Association, Taking full advantage of the excellent hardware facilities of large-scale aquariums and their technical advantages in the artificial breeding of cetaceans, a research platform for the conservation of Yangtze finless porpoises was set up, with the aim of establishing a complete artificial breeding and breeding population of Yangtze River finless porpoises and expanding the ex situ conservation approaches.
At the same time, with the help of the platform advantages of the aquarium, actively carry out science popularization and education, create conditions for the public to know the flagship species of the Yangtze River, and promote the awareness of ecological protection of the whole society.

The permit for artificial domestication and breeding has been strictly examined and approved

Ex situ conservation is a way to protect animals that have been seriously damaged in their original habitat and seriously threaten their survival and reproduction to suitable areas.

"The two aquariums under ex situ protection have obtained artificial domestication and breeding licenses after many expert demonstrations and strict approval procedures.These two units have public welfare undertakings to support the protection of aquatic wildlife. " Li said.

In June 2018, the fisheries and Fisheries Administration Bureau of the Ministry of agriculture and rural areas, together with the Yangtze River Basin fisheries administration office, organized relevant experts in Beijing to review the application materials submitted by Zhuhai Changlong and Shanghai Haichang, and agreed that the two units should apply for the license for artificial propagation of aquatic wild animals and the license for operation and utilization of aquatic wild animals in accordance with the law.

Xu Pao pointed out that Zhuhai Changlong and Shanghai Haichang are the leading large-scale aquarium operators in China. They have good facilities and facilities and rich experience in breeding cetaceans. They have built venues for the ex situ conservation design of Yangtze finless porpoises.

"Chimelong ocean Kingdom has complete hardware facilities, a large number of technology accumulation of breeding team and basic scientific research strength. The terrestrial conservation team has successfully bred the only triplet Giant Panda at present." "Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park has advanced management concept, abundant funds, excellent technical team and advanced domestication hardware facilities, which has successfully broken through the artificial breeding of sea turtles," Li said

The picture shows a protein separator made by chongrui for finless porpoise in the aquarium

 

There is an urgent need to move the finless porpoise to relatively safe waters

Under the background of the comprehensive implementation of the Yangtze River protection, the overall situation of aquatic biological protection in the Yangtze River has improved, but the local protection is still quite difficult.

"Some water related projects are still under construction and use, and the impact of human activities continues to intensify. We have seen that local water pollution incidents occur from time to time. The 10-year ban on fishing in the Yangtze River has been carried out in an all-round way Li said.

In addition, there are two problems that cannot be changed at present and are becoming more and more serious.

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The finless porpoise swims freely. Photo by Zhang Xiaozhang, volunteer of the finless porpoise Protection Association of Yueyang City

Li Yanliang said frankly: first, the water level of the Yangtze River continues to drop, and this change trend will not be reversed by human will. In recent years, there are more and more Yangtze finless porpoises stranded in Poyang Lake, Dongting Lake and some old roads in winter. Due to the change of water environment, the grounding of finless porpoise will continue to happen, which can not be reduced because of our willingness to protect. Secondly, the water body of the Yangtze River is decreasing as a whole, the shipping ships are increasing, the speed of the transport ships is also increasing, and the traffic density of the ships per unit water body is increasing, which makes the survival space of the finless porpoise more and more serious. The Yangtze finless porpoise is guided by sonar system, and the navigation density increases, which destroys the echolocation of the finless porpoise.

"The above two factors will not be alleviated by our will. It is very important to protect the finless porpoise in the main stream of the Yangtze River and Tongjiang lake, so it is necessary to protect the finless porpoise in a relatively safe water environment to ensure the normal survival of the finless porpoise." Li Yanliang stressed.

Lack of research base restricts the scientific research development of Yangtze finless porpoise

In Li Yanliang's opinion, for the Yangtze finless porpoise protection, it is very difficult to understand the Yangtze finless porpoise. Moving the Yangtze finless porpoise to an aquarium for popular science education can provide a base, human and material support for scientific research institutions to carry out scientific research activities and cultivate scientific research talents.

Chongrui aquaculture's circulating water system for Yangtze finless porpoise

Li Yanliang said frankly that the Yangtze finless porpoise research in China is very backward, with few research teams and serious shortage of scientific research personnel, mainly due to the lack of scientific research bases. The baiji Museum of Institute of aquatic biology, the only research base of Yangtze finless porpoise in Chinese Academy of Sciences, was built with the support of Japanese animal protection agency. Today, the facilities of the museum can not meet the needs of scientific research. However, the upgrading and reconstruction can not be completed due to financial difficulties, which restricts the development of scientific research and the cultivation of scientific and technological talents.

"We can see the protection and development of giant panda. There are more than 100 experts in the expert database. There are only more than 10 experts in the Yangtze finless porpoise. Moreover, the so-called Yangtze finless porpoise research still stays on watching the Yangtze finless porpoise in natural waters with telescopes. Researchers only look at the Yangtze finless porpoise more than the common people, It is difficult to obtain in-depth and valuable research results. " Li said.

The lack of research base has seriously restricted the development of scientific research on Yangtze finless porpoise.

"If so, why not use the advanced equipment and meticulous nursing technology and team of the aquarium?" Li Yanliang believes that it is very necessary for the Ministry of agriculture and rural areas to move a small number of Yangtze finless porpoises to the aquarium to carry out conservation research on the Yangtze finless porpoise with the aquarium is to make full use of the superior social conditions, which is exactly what the current construction funds of scientific research institutions cannot achieve.

On May 9, the Ministry of agriculture and rural areas awarded Zhuhai Changlong ocean Kingdom and Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park as the artificial breeding and science popularization education bases of Yangtze finless porpoise in the theme activity of Yangtze finless porpoise protection and science popularization publicity. The two venues will serve as research platforms for the Yangtze finless porpoise of relevant research institutes and universities.

Baiji has taught us a profound lesson in conservation

"In terms of conservation, Baiji has taught us a profound lesson. In 1996, there were still more than 300 Baiji, and the Ministry of agriculture once organized scientific research institutions to capture and conserve the baiji, but due to conceptual problems and other reasons, the relocation of Baiji was not successful Li said.

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Researchers examined the world's only captive Baiji "Qiqi" (photo taken on May 14, 2002)“ Qiqi died on July 14, 2002 in the Institute of aquatic biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, after 22 and a half years of artificial breeding. Xinhua News Agency reporter   Hao Tongqian

The baiji was declared functionally extinct in 2007.

"If the ex situ conservation was successful in those years, it would be possible for the baiji to reproduce naturally in the artificial environment. Now, there may still be Baiji in the world. With the help of current technology, it is possible to preserve this species. This lesson is too profound for us. " Li Yanliang sighed.

"We recognize that aquatic wildlife is seriously less valued by society than terrestrial wildlife. The number of Yangtze finless porpoise is far less than that of giant panda, which is more endangered. However, we do not know about the Yangtze finless porpoise. Due to the limited conditions, we have no time to go to the riverside to watch the Yangtze finless porpoise. From this point of view, the role of Yangtze finless porpoise in science popularization is greater than that of scientific research and protection. " Li Yanliang said frankly.

It is reported that the old road of Swan Island, where the finless porpoise moved out, is also an ex situ conservation unit. In 1990, five finless porpoises moved to the Yangtze River for ex situ conservation. In the later stage, through reproduction and a small amount of supplement, the population had grown to about 60 in 2015, and before this ex situ conservation action, the population size had grown to 101.

"Without the ex situ protection in those years, there would be no result of Swan Island today. This is the result of protection under the basic control of the environment." Li Yanliang said happily.

At present, the ex situ conservation planning of finless porpoise is reasonable and scientific

In recent years, national ministries and commissions have issued a series of laws and regulations and protection planning.

On December 13, 2016, the former Ministry of Agriculture issued the "Yangtze River finless porpoise rescue action plan (2016-2025)";
On July 17, 2017, the former Ministry of environmental protection, the development and Reform Commission, and the Ministry of water resources, together with relevant departments, prepared and printed the ecological and environmental protection plan for the Yangtze River economic belt;
On April 3, 2018, the Ministry of ecological environment, together with the Ministry of agriculture and rural areas and the Ministry of water resources, formulated the protection plan for aquatic biodiversity in key river basins;
The Yangtze River Protection Law of the people's Republic of China will be formally implemented on March 1, 2021;
On March 2, 2021, the Ministry of agriculture and rural affairs deliberated and approved in principle the "Yangtze River biodiversity protection project construction plan (2021-2025)" at the executive meeting.

The above-mentioned laws and regulations and conservation planning have put forward clear and specific requirements for "ex situ conservation of Yangtze finless porpoise", and pointed out the direction for steadily promoting the ex situ conservation of Yangtze finless porpoise.

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The "Yangtze finless porpoise rescue action plan (2016-2025)" clearly puts forward a systematic protection plan for the Yangtze finless porpoise, such as in-situ conservation, ex situ conservation and artificial breeding. The first is to insist on in-situ conservation, the second is to strengthen ex situ protection, the third is to speed up the research on artificial breeding technology, and the fourth is to mobilize social forces to participate in the Yangtze finless porpoise protection.

"At present, the ex situ conservation planning of finless porpoise is very reasonable. The ex situ protection includes migration protection to natural waters and artificially controlled waters. Some local water environment is very suitable for ex situ conservation of Yangtze finless porpoise, but the local enthusiasm is not high. This will continue to promote local work in cooperation with the Yangtze finless porpoise protection action. " Li said.

"So far, the Ministry of agriculture and rural areas has established five ex situ conservation groups of Yangtze River finless porpoises in conjunction with relevant local governments, reserve management institutions and scientific research institutions. The total number of ex situ populations is close to 150, and the average annual number of young porpoises born is more than 10. In Wuhan Baiji Museum, Zhuhai Changlong, Shanghai Haichang and the Yangtze River old channel cage, a number of artificial environment protection groups have been established, with a total population of nearly 20 Introduction to Xu run.
"Although the ex situ conservation work represented by the Tianezhou Baiji National Nature Reserve of the Yangtze River in Hubei Province has achieved remarkable results, on the whole, there are still some practical problems, such as the number of ex situ reserves is relatively small, the ex situ population is too concentrated, and the genetic diversity of ex situ population is declining." Xu Pao pointed out that the next step should be in accordance with the deployment of the Yangtze finless porpoise rescue action plan (2016-2025), continue to promote the multi-channel ex situ conservation of the Yangtze finless porpoise, establish new ex situ conservation groups, promote the construction of existing ex situ protection water conditions, further expand the number of ex situ conservation groups, orderly carry out individual exchanges among various ex situ groups, and optimize the structure of ex situ groups, To enrich the ex situ conservation network of Yangtze finless porpoise and reduce the systematic risk of migrating population.