In late 2006, researchers from the Institute of Hydrobiology at the Chinese Academy of Sciencesin Wuhan, China returned from a six-week journey on the Yangtze River, dejected.

They had searched far and wide for signs of the baji — commonly known as the “Goddess of the Yangtze,” China’s famed river dolphin — and came up empty. Months later the freshwater species was declared functionally extinct.