Chinese White Dolphin

Fluffy-minded notions behind Disney ecological tours plan

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 June, 2007, 12:00am

I notice ('Ecological tours plan for park pier', June 11) that tourism commissioner Au King-chi has suggested the ferry pier at Disneyland could be used for ecological tours. I'd like to suggest an itinerary to Ms Au which could give visitors a fascinating - if rather horrifying - introduction to our local ecosystems.

First, the tour could pop over to nearby Peng Chau, where silt from the Disney reclamation work harmed the best hard coral site in western Hong Kong. Then, heading south, the guide could explain how we're in the mouth of the Pearl River - one of the world's filthiest. Hong Kong adds its share of pollution, which was surely responsible for recent widespread red tides.

Swinging west, they head for one of our loveliest groups of islands, the Sokos. Here, the tourists learn how a liquefied natural gas terminal is to be sited on the largest island, and how this will pump chilled chlorinated water into the sea, annually killing eggs and larvae equivalent of hundreds of thousands of adult fish.

The group then move to Tai O, with its damaged coastal wetlands, then cruise by some of Hong Kong's finest coastal scenery. Scenery that won't be pristine for long, if our concrete-loving government and businesses succeed with plans to build a new container terminal, a vast bridge and other structures - which will increase shipping that in turn will add to already severe air pollution.

Passing along north Lantau, our tourists may see Chinese white dolphins, billed as the world's pinkest dolphins. Maybe the dolphins will be gambolling cheerfully; maybe they'll be dodging the growing numbers of high speed ferries that threaten to splatter them into smithereens. Then back to Disney, built on a reclamation that helped shrink the dolphins' dwindling habitat.

Of course, Ms Au will not have such a tour in mind. She will have fluffy-minded notions of an outing to explore our rich coastal biodiversity. Such an outing is still just possible. But only if Hongkongers, including Ms Au and others in the Tourism Commission, really appreciate and stand up for our remaining 'wild' areas.

Dr Martin Williams, director, Hong Kong Outdoors