(Left) Photo 1: The class at the Department of River Dolphin Research
(Right)Photo 2: Looking for frogs at the Wuhan Botanical Garden
Today was a very busy day! After an early start and breakfast at the hotel, we set out for The Museum of Aquatic Organisms at the Institute of Hydrobiology Chinese Academy of Science. This museum has the largest collection of freshwater specimens in all of China - over 400,000 in total! Although the displays were written in Mandarin, the Chinese students did a wonderful job translating for the Canadians, helping them to get the most out of the experience. We were able to see many unique species, including the Chinese sturgeon (Acipenser sinensis), which turned out to be far, far bigger than what we had been picturing. One sad moment was seeing a preserved river dolphin (Lipotes vexifillifer), which is now completely extinct. It was a beautiful creature, and really made us reflect on the importance of preserving our many endangered species.
We trooped back onto the bus and promptly got completely lost. After traveling a long way down increasingly narrow alleyways, we thought we might be stuck for good. However, our bus driver skillfully maneuvered his way through a seemingly impossible turn, earning a well-deserved round of applause. Back underway, we finally arrived at our next destination, the Department of River Dolphin Research, which is also part of the Institute of Hydrobiology. Our guide, Professor Hao , was patiently waiting to show us their resident population of finless porpoises (Neophocaena phoconoides). Sadly, this species is critically endangered and it is predicted that they will disappear completely from the wild within ten years, so we were very fortunate to be able to see them in person. It was, in a word, magical. The seven porpoises cavorted around their spacious tank, while we pressed up against the underwater viewing windows and snapped hundreds of photos. Their smiling faces and playful antics filled everyone with joy, and it was widely agreed that this had been the highlight of our trip so far. We could have happily stayed for hours, but there was still much more to do.
The next stop was lunch - delicious as always - and a quick mission to the supermarket to buy snacks for our long train ride the next day. Armed with fruit and nuts and every flavour of Oreo imaginable, we headed off for our last activity of the day, the Wuhan Botanical Garden. Our extremely knowledgeable guide, Professor Qing-Feng Wang, gave us a very thorough and informative tour of the whole garden, which contains more than 6000 species. Everyone was very taken by the beautiful orange-and-white Acanthea flowers from Peru (Pachystachyshys lutea). Another highlight was the kiwi garden, which contains 70% of all the species of kiwi! In addition to many exotic plants and trees, we also saw several animals, including some unidentified frogs and several birds, such as the common moorhen (Galinola sp.). The entire park was beautifully designed, and the trip was the wonderful experience for everyone.
After a long day of working, everyone was very eager for dinner! Mr. Young, a colleague of Professor Wang, very kindly treated us to an extremely fancy meal. For the first time, we were all seated at one huge table, while the various dishes rotated slowly in front of us. The selection was incredible, and everyone was stuffed by the time we left the restaurant. Our wise professors decided to cancel the planned evening discussion, and everyone fell into bed almost immediately. The train to Wuxi leaves very early in the morning - on to the next adventure!
今天是非常忙碌的一天！匆忙吃过早饭，就奔赴了我们向往已久的中国科学院水生生物研究所。他有超过400,000种的标本，是中国最大的淡水水生生物标本馆。虽然我们很想要把所有墙上的中文都翻译给加拿大学生听，但很多时候也确实无能为力。在标本馆里看到了许多中国特有的物种，像中华鲟（Acipenser sinensis）。它比我们想象得要大得多，约有2-3m。我们看到了几个世界之最：世界上海拔最高的鱼 - 斯氏高原鳅（Triplophysa stolicvkae）；世界上染色体最多的鱼 - 双须叶须鱼（Ptychobarbus dipogon）。还看到了四足动物的祖先：浚淡矛尾鱼（Latimeria chalumnae Smith），十分独特的造型最令人伤心的一幕就是看到白鳍豚(Neophocaena phoconoides)都已功能性灭绝。这种美丽的生物，引发了我们对于濒临灭绝物种的思考。
下一站我们去了武汉植物园，汪教授告诉我们这里的植物共有6000种，其中包括水生的和陆生的。植物园分很多区域，有美丽而色彩缤纷的兰花园，有种着令人不胜叹惋的珍稀物种园……其中最令我们印象深刻的就是有许多入侵物种的湿地区，那里有加拿大一枝黄花（Soildago canadensis），空心莲子草(Alternanthera philoxeroides）又名水花生，美洲商陆（Phytolacca americana），水龙（Ludwigia adscendens）。另一个吸引我们的就是有世界上70%种类的猕猴桃园，在那里我们还遭遇了一场大雨。除了一些引进的外来植物，我们还看到了一些包括不认识的青蛙、鸟、水鸡(Galinola sp.)。整一个园子都被规划得很好，所以我们都得到了很宝贵的经验。
(Left) Photo 3: Professor Stewart getting up close and personal with a finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides)
(Right) Photo 4: Finless porpoises cavorting in their tank
(Left) Photo 5: The Chinese students helping to translate the displays at the Museum of Aquatic Organisms
(Right) Photo 6: Darrell having a moment with the extinct river dolphin (Lipotes vexifillifer)
(Left) Photo 7: A beautiful Peruvian Acanthea (Pachystachyshys lutea)
(Right) Photo 8: Enjoying a fancy meal after a long day