White dolphins battle for survival

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 July, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 July, 2004, 12:00am

Chinese white dolphins in the Pearl River Delta are threatened by overfishing, pollution and the large number of ships that pass through this stretch of sea every day.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Hong Kong has launched a programme called 'Our Dolphin' to raise awareness among the public and gain government support to protect the endangered species.

According to the WWF, the delta is a vital source of food for the white dolphins.

Overfishing and heavy traffic have robbed the mammals of their food and disturbed their natural habitat, pushing them to the edge of extinction, the charity organisation said.

The WWF estimates there are 186 Chinese white dolphins in Hong Kong waters. One white dolphin eats an average of about 10kg of fish every day. When the water gets warmer, they eat less, and it is also the breeding season. WWF researchers have sighted four new baby dolphins so far this year and they need a friendly environment to grow up in.

Alongside the 'Our Dolphin' programme, the WWF has launched an initiative aimed at school children.

Under the scheme, children will be allowed to enrol as Student Dolphin Ambassadors and enter a dolphin-drawing competition. Their role is to help spread the conservation message among their families and friends. A dolphin education officer will visit primary schools and give talks to students.

The WWF hopes such activities will provide a better understanding of marine conservation issues and inspire students to embark on careers as conservationists, marine scientists or dolphin biologists.

Charlie Young, WWF Hong Kong dolphin ambassador, said: 'With an estimated number of 186 white dolphins in Hong Kong waters, we definitely need more public support to ensure their continued survival.'

For more information about the 'Our Dolphin' programme, call the WWF at 2526 1011 or visit its website at www.wwf.org.hk.