IHB Joins Yangtze Finless Porpoise Expedition in Wuhan

The expedition launched on Oct. 24 aims to make the city a suitable habitat for the Yangtze finless porpoises. (Credit: IHB)

An expedition was launched on October 24 in Wuhan to investigate the status of aquatic animals and water ecology along a 60 km river section between the Junshan Yangtze River Bridge and Yangluo Yangtze River Bridge.    

The long-term goal for the expedition is to make the city a suitable habitat for the Yangtze finless porpoises.   

As China’s leading research team in the conservation of the Yangtze finless porpoises, Institute of Hydrobiology (IHB) of Chinese Academy of Sciences participated in the expedition to analyze and evaluate the underwater noise and other environmental obstacles that affect the porpoise in the Wuhan section of the Yangtze River.   

The porpoise is an indicator for the ecology of the Yangtze River, yet its total number in the mainstream of the Yangtze is only around 400. Three large-scale expeditions carried out in 2006, 2012 and 2017 observed no porpoise in the Wuhan section of the Yangtze.    

The good news is, from this August, several porpoises have been seen in the Wuhan section of the Yangtze, which is a sign of hope.    

“It’s been more than a decade since we last saw a porpoise in the Wuhan section of the Yangtze River,” said Prof. WANG Kexiong, the PI of the Research Group of Conservation Biology of Aquatic Animals at IHB.    

Twelve underwater acoustic monitoring sites will eventually be set up along the 60 km river section to detect the presence of the porpoises.    

At present, three locations are the candidates for the porpoise habitats. The first is the Baishazhou shoal which is located at the uppermost river of Wuhan section of the Yangtze. The second is the water area where the Yangtze meets the Han River. The last is the Tianxingzhou, a 26 km2 island in the Yangtze where a culture park featuring the porpoise will be constructed.    

“The residents of Wuhan will see wild finless porpoises from the river banks of Wuchang and Hankou in the near future,” Wang said.  

Prof. WANG Kexiong introduces the expedition, Oct. 24. (Credit: IHB)