White dolphin found on a beach was 'murdered', say Lamma locals

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 April, 2004, 12:00am

A Chinese white dolphin was found dead on a rocky beach on northern Lamma Island yesterday, a rope knotted around its tail.

Some residents of the island, who were clearly distraught, said the dolphin had been 'murdered'.

The dolphin was spotted yesterday afternoon by residents as they walked near Pak Kok on the northern part of Lamma Island.

It was lying on the beach next to an abandoned car tyre, with bruises and cuts to its head and a rope tied around its tail.

'It is extreme sadness. This individual creature is one of the last members of its obviously doomed species and had a value beyond diamonds,' said John Newson, one of the Lamma residents who spotted the dolphin.

Measuring about 1.8 metres, the female dolphin is thought to have been about 20 years old. It is thought to have been dead for about a week given the state of its decomposed body.

It is the fourth Chinese white dolphin found dead so far this year.

Last year, 14 dead dolphins were reported to authorities.

Samuel Hung Ka-yiu, chairman of the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society, said it was unusual and surprising to see a rope tied around the dolphin's tail. 'Definitely, it was tied by humans. But we can't say if it was done by fishermen as we found no trace that it had been netted by fishermen,' he said.

Mr Hung on Wednesday said a finless porpoise had been found tied up with a nylon rope off the sea in Tung Ping Chau. The cause of its death is unknown.

'We suspect people might have tied up the dead dolphin to prevent it from being washed back into the water,' he said.

It is believed the dolphin might have been tied up before it had died.

Mr Hung said it was relatively rare for Chinese white dolphins to appear in Lamma waters as most of them cluster around north Lantau.

A spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said an autopsy would be conducted on organ samples taken from the dead dolphin.