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'Smiling Angels' spotted in Jingjiang section of Yangtze River

etaizhou.gov.cn|Updated: August 23, 2023

Yangtze finless porpoises, also called Smiling Angels, were spotted playing in the Jingjiang section of the Yangtze River on Aug 20. 

The sighting took place during a summer field survey conducted by the Yangtze finless porpoise research team in Jingjiang, a city with a 52.3-kilometer shoreline along the Yangtze River. This is the longest shoreline among all county-level cities in East China's Jiangsu province.

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Two Yangtze finless porpoises are seen at the Jingjiang section of the Yangtze River, East China's Jiangsu province, on Aug 20. [Photo/js.people.com.cn]

As the team's fishing boat approached the water near the city's Mucheng Park, groups of porpoises leaped out of the river. Within an hour, the team observed over 10 porpoises playing in various areas, including the east side of Jingjiang Xiaqiao Port, near the railway bridge of the Xinyi-Changxing Railway, and the water intake of Mucheng Park.

The appearance of the finless porpoise, which is under first-class national protection, in the Yangtze River is an indication of the excellent state of the river's ecosystem. 

"We have been able to observe porpoises every day since Aug 16, and this indicates a stable presence of a large porpoise population in the Jingjiang section," said Wang Zhengfei, head of the research team and vice-dean of the Wetland College at Yancheng Teachers University.

The research team believes there are two groups comprising up to 32 porpoises in the Jingjiang section. 

Since 2021, the team has conducted 40 boat surveys in the Jingjiang section of the Yangtze River and observed a total of 38 porpoise groups.

In 2016, Jingjiang designated 17.35 kilometers of shoreline – 33 percent of the total shoreline – as non-development areas to focus on preserving the ecological landscape and conserving the shoreline. 

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