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Yangtze River Dolphin

Yangtze River Dolphin Range Map (Yangtze River, China)
Yangtze River Dolphin Range Map
(Yangtze River, China)

The size of a Yangtze River Dolphin compared to an average human
The size of a Yangtze River Dolphin
compared to an average human

Latin Name Lipotes Vexillifer
Conservation Status Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct)
Location Yangtze River, China
Colour Pale Blue/Grey
Length 1.5 - 2.5 m (4.9 - 8.25 ft)
Weight 60 - 160 kg (132 - 350 lb)
Life Expectancy 22 Yrs

Main Characteristics

The Yangtze River Dolphin is a freshwater dolphin. It has a body length between 1.5 and 2.5 m (4.9 - 8.25 ft) and it weighs between 60 and 160 kgs (132 - 350 lbs). Females are usually larger than males.

They are pale blue/grey in colour with a lighter underside and they have a long, thin beak and a flexible neck. Both their upper and lower jaws have 30 - 35 pairs peg-like teeth and they have a low, triangular shaped dorsal fin.

They have tiny eyes and underdeveloped eyesight so they rely upon touch and echolocation to navigate.

They usually swim at speeds of 10 - 15 km/hr (6 - 9 mph) but they can reach speeds of 60 km/hr (37 mph) if they are threatened.


The Yangtze River Dolphin is only found in the Yangtze River in China. They are shy, secretive animals and they live in small groups of up to 6 individuals.


Yangtze River Dolphins feed upon fish.


Yangtze River Dolphins usually give birth between February and April. After a gestation period of 10 - 11 months one calf is born measuring 80 - 90 cms (32 - 35 inches) in length. The youngster is nursed for up to 20 months.

Females become sexually mature at 8 years of age and they have a birthing interval of 2 years.


Humans are the main predator to the Yangtze River Dolphin as they have been illegally hunted for their meat and body parts that are used in traditional chinese medicine.

They also face many threats including depletion of prey by over fishing, pollution of the Yangtze River, collisions with boats, engineering explosions and the recently completed Three Gorges Dam is likely to reduce areas in which they can suitably survive.


There are no subspecies of the Yangtze River Dolphin.

Interesting Facts

The Yangtze River Dolphin is also known as:
Chinese River Dolphin
Whitefin Dolphin
White-Flag Dolphin
Yangtze Dolphin


Lipotes vexillifer means left behind flag bearer.

The population of the Yangtze River Dolphin has rapidly declined over the last 30 years and in November and December 2006 a six week survey was carried out which failed to locate any surviving Yangtze River Dolphins. If they still survive they are the world's most threatened cetacean species. For more details Continue>

Similar Animals

La Plata Dolphin
Irrawaddy Dolphin
Amazon River Dolphin
Australian Snubfin Dolphin
South Asian River Dolphin

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