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finless porpoise

Smiling at danger, finless porpoise fights to survive

In an oxbow lake along the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, a breathy sigh pierces the surface stillness as one of China‚Äôs most endangered animals comes up for a gulp of hazy air. A slick black back with no dorsal fin arches briefly above the water line before plunging back down. Such glimpses of the shy Yangtze finless porpoise, the only aquatic mammal left in China's longest river and known in Chinese as the "smiling angel" for its perma-grin, are increasingly rare. Pollution, overfishing, hydroelectric dams…