Biopsy programme planned

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 August, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 1996, 12:00am

We refer to two articles that appeared in the South China Morning Post, after the Agriculture and Fisheries Department-sponsored dolphin colloquium in Hong Kong from July 1-3.

The articles ('HK dolphins doomed, say world experts', Post, July 4 and 'Gunning for dolphin fat', Post, July 5) upset us; our statements were taken out of context to support angles that simply don't correspond with our views.

The headlines and the articles, in general, will hurt the cause of dolphin conservation in Hong Kong.

These animals have suffered from much degradation of their environment, and there is justifiably much concern about their status and future in Hong Kong waters.

However, such reporting does nothing to help dolphins; in fact, giving people the impression that the dolphins are already doomed to local extinction may be quite disastrous for them. We sincerely hope that, in the future, Hong Kong newspapers will begin to be more careful about how they report this issue.

Readers may be interested to know that a trial biopsy collection programme, endorsed by the Marine Mammal Conservation Working Group, is intended to be initiated later this year.

The biopsy samples will provide valuable data for various conservation-related studies, including those on taxonomy and population discreteness, pollutant-levels of free-ranging animals, and feeding habits.

Dr THOMAS A. JEFFERSON Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Dr BERND WURSIG Texas A&M University, US Dr VICTOR G. COCKCROFT Port Elizabeth Museum South Africa