The plight of Hong Kong's dolphins

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 June, 2012, 12:00am



What happened? A news report says boat traffic and underwater noise in Hong Kong's waters are proving too much for Chinese white dolphins (Sousa chinensis chinensis). Numbers have dropped sharply.


Who raised the alarm? The Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society did. The charitable society was formed in 2003. Its website says it is the only society dedicated to saving Hong Kong's whales, dolphins and porpoises. It wants to raise public awareness about the plight of the dolphins and preserve their habitat.


When were the drops in numbers observed? The society said the fall in dolphin numbers was especially marked in 2003-04 and 2007-08. They coincided with increases in boat traffic. In 2003, the SkyPier ferry terminal opened at Hong Kong International airport. The society's chairman, Samuel Hung, says plans to build a third runway would increase ferry traffic and place further strain on the dolphins.


Where can the dolphins be seen? They can be spotted around Hong Kong at the Brothers Islands, Black Point, Pillar Point, Lantau's west coast, Sha Chau and Lung Kwu Chau Marine Park.


Why does boat traffic trouble the animals? 'Dolphins depend on sound to survive in their environment; they are acoustic creatures,' Hung said. The animals need to hear to communicate with one another and to find food. 'There is a lot of noise generated from high-speed ferries ... This noise creates a lot of stress for the dolphins and can change their habits,' Hung said.


How do the dolphins become pink? Their unique pink tinge is caused by blood vessels near their skin's surface, like an all-over blush.