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Friday, September 22, 2023

Saving the Finless Porpoises of the Yangtze River: A Photographer’s Journey

LifestyleSaving the Finless Porpoises of the Yangtze River: A Photographer's Journey

Yang He, a 64-year-old photographer, has a daily routine that involves waking up in the early hours of the morning and heading to the banks of the Yangtze River in Yichang, Hubei province. His mission is to photograph finless porpoises that swim in the river, which he deeply admires for their beauty and connection to the river’s health. He has been pursuing this passion for the past six years and has taken over 100,000 pictures of the endangered species.

When Yang arrives at the riverbank, he patiently waits for a pod of finless porpoises to emerge from the water, hoping to capture their beauty through his lens. He has developed a close bond with the porpoises over the years and claims to know them like his own children. Yang says, “As soon as one of them emerges from the water, I can tell which family it belongs to.”

The Yangtze finless porpoise’s survival is closely linked to the health of the Yangtze River. Any changes in the river’s ecosystem can impact the species’ well-being. To address this, the Chinese government has placed the Yangtze finless porpoise under top-level national protection since the species is endangered. Surveys have been conducted since 2006 to gather vital data on the porpoises. In the past five years, their population has increased by 23.4% to 1,249 individuals.

Yang, who has been a resident of Yichang for a long time, has witnessed and documented the changes in the finless porpoises’ population and environment using his camera. He has seen the positive impact of conservation efforts on the species. His photographs capture the grace and beauty of the Yangtze finless porpoise, emphasizing the importance of protecting this endangered species.

Through Yang’s dedication to photography, people can witness the majesty of these animals and understand the impact of environmental changes on their well-being. His passion for finless porpoises has allowed him to document their lives and movements, highlighting their significance in the river’s ecosystem. He hopes that his photographs will inspire people to take action to protect the species.

As a photographer, Yang’s work is not only aesthetically pleasing but also serves as an essential tool for scientific research. His pictures provide valuable information about the porpoises’ behavior and habitat, contributing to the species’ conservation. Yang’s commitment to his craft has not only produced beautiful imagery but also helped advance scientific knowledge.

In a time where the environment is under threat, Yang’s work serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving endangered species and their habitats. His photographs showcase the beauty of the Yangtze finless porpoise, instilling a sense of appreciation and responsibility in people. By spreading awareness about the species, Yang is contributing to the efforts to protect them.

Yang’s relationship with the Yangtze finless porpoise is a testament to the bond between humans and animals. His photographs capture the porpoises’ personalities, emphasizing their individuality and the need to protect them. Through his passion and dedication, Yang is inspiring others to appreciate the beauty of nature and take action to protect endangered species.

Yang He’s connection with the finless porpoises of the Yangtze River goes back to his teenage years when he first saw them trailing boats in the water. However, with the increase in human activity along the river, these creatures started becoming rare in the Yichang section of the river.

Over the past few decades, there has been a significant decrease in the population of the finless porpoises due to overfishing and excessive human activity. To save this endangered species, significant measures have been implemented, including surveys to collect vital data and top-level national protection.

Despite the challenges, in 2017, Yang was fortunate enough to spot a finless porpoise after a long gap and capture a photo of it. In the years that followed, he was able to snap even more photos, including images of the porpoises skillfully catching fish near the riverbank.

Yang’s photos are evidence of the improved ecological conditions in the Yangtze River basin, and the fact that these captivating creatures can once again be observed leaping above the water’s surface is a testament to the success of conservation efforts.

Yang, a devoted admirer of the finless porpoise, says he will continue to capture their beauty for as long as he can hold a camera and keep a vigilant eye on them. He has taken more than 100,000 photos of the finless porpoises in the past six years and knows them so well that he can tell which family a porpoise belongs to as soon as it emerges from the water.

For Yang, the finless porpoises are like his children, and he has observed and captured their changes over the years with his camera. He is determined to make it his life’s mission to document this remarkable creature and raise awareness about their importance to the ecosystem.

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