After an intensive, but fruitless, search for this rare cetacean in 2006, it is now believed that the baiji may be extinct; which would earn this dolphin the grim record of being the first cetacean to disappear as a result of human activity (4). It is a very shy and graceful freshwater dolphin, with a rather stocky body, roughly the size of an adult human (3). It is bluish-grey in colour becoming whitish on the underside, but seems white or greyish from a distance (3). In common with other river dolphins, it has a very long, narrow beak with a slightly upturned tip, and small eyes placed high up on the face (2). The dorsal fin is positioned low on the body and is triangular in shape, and the flippers are rounded (2) (5). Females tend to be larger than males (2). The baiji is the only species in this genus, the name of which, Lipotes, derives from the Greek for 'left behind', referring to its limited range (3).
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