• Mon
  • Jul 14, 2014
  • Updated: 5:46am
NewsHong Kong
WILDLIFE

Hong Kong's iconic pink dolphins are disappearing fast

'Significant' fall in numbers to be revealed amid concerns they may vanish altogether because of pollution, reclamation and increasing sea traffic

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 May, 2013, 5:03am

Hong Kong's iconic pink dolphins are disappearing at an unprecedented rate, experts say.

They warn the animals could vanish altogether from the city's waters unless pollution and disruption to the marine environment are checked.

Figures due next month will show a major decline in the number of pink dolphins - also known as Chinese white dolphins - found in Hong Kong waters at any one time, says Dr Samuel Hung Ka-yiu, chairman of the Dolphin Conservation Society.

Rampant reclamation and development - including the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge and the planned third airport runway - combined with pollution and ever-increasing vessel traffic are believed to have hit the pink dolphin, the city's mascot for the 1997 handover.

"They are diminishing their use [of Hong Kong waters], they are not reproducing and they are dying," Hung said. "It is hard to say if they will leave Hong Kong permanently … but [the trend] will become worse and worse."

Dolphins have been recorded in Hong Kong waters since the 1600s. Hung said the number shrank from 158 in 2003 to 78 in 2011. The figure for last year, to be released next month, would be "significantly lower", he said.

Sightings of dead calves have also risen sharply, with three cases recorded last month alone. The calves are suspected to have died from contaminated milk produced by their mothers.

Concerns were highlighted when a boat party videoed a mother and other dolphins trying to support her dead calf on the water's surface last Sunday near Lung Kwu Chau Marine Park.

Janet Walker, spokeswoman for Dolphinwatch, which runs dolphin-spotting boat trips, said: "Half the dead ones every year are juveniles and babies.

"If the third runway goes ahead and when the bridge is complete, an awful lot of habitat will be lost and there will be a lot more pollution."

She added: "If the dolphins are dying it says a lot about the state of our ocean. They are a monitor of the general condition of the marine environment. If they are in trouble, so are we."

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This article is now closed to comments

InGraceWeTrust
Asia has allowed Fukushima to destroy their sea animals. The people will continue to drink the contaminated waters, eat from the radioactive soil, and pretend everything is okay until they cannot leave their beds to work.This will continue until the infants, elderly, and sick disappear in record-breaking numbers. Then it will be the adults and finally the children will be infertile.
I'm sure that the thought is to just go and take over Australia, Africa, or South America but unfortunately they are already aware of Fukushima's effects. They will not allow an exodus.
Now what will Asia do to save herself and her people?
Think fast. There's no more time to evade the issue.
CatInAFlap
Hong Kong's iconic ICAC disappearing fast.
megafun
This is what happens when EPD is impotent with a weak, soft-spoken Sec of Environ, whom has no strong eco-green convictions. As an example, he had never done any public defence of these dolphins. He never spoke against 3rd runway, or highlighted all those doubts over its necessity!
aplucky1
someone should bring the baby carcasses and dump them on li ka s h i t 's door step
oasis
White elephants, white dolphins, whatever, they can't afford milk powder and real estate - should move to china where money goes further. That's the HK way (tragic is it not)....
chaz_hen
HK's Pink Dolphins can easily be replaced by HK's white elephants
tracyr
Land reclamation, new runways and the bridge are destroying the habitat of these rare dolphins, not to mention all the boats that speed past without caring about what's underneath them. If indeed you judge a country by the way it treats its animals Hong Kong would not be judged well. More needs to be done to protect their habitat and get rid of the pollution before they are gone forever.
johnyuan
When a place needs to alter its geography to accommodate its population, its people has chosen a wrong place to live. In fact, how many cities in the world have filled up their waters or chipping off mountains to be a place? Hong Kong should stop land reclamation forever. It should fix the cause of land shortage and at the mean time sit it out until the cause is totally removed. As a start, reexamine the right-of-abode for family reunion, a policy that has run sufficiently long enough since the colonial days. No longer only a handful of Hong Kong men is building family in mainland which the current statistic most likely warrants a rethink of the policy.
Here Hong Kong shouldn’t continue seeing property development as a means for fortune building for the city. It has been destroying Hong Kong irreversibly of its environment. Its time for CY Leung to lead Hong Kong out of this property culture. Majority of people will support you if you do.
johnyuan

Any land reclamation is destructive to the ecological state along shoreline – it utterly destroys the sun bathed gentle slope of the continental shelf that supports plants and organisms which fish feed on. The natural shoreline what nature has set competing forces in equilibrium which land reclamation just simply destroys. Planners in the past should know better. It is utterly too even a bigger mistake for entrusting the Civil Engineering and Development Department to tackle our environment – if continues, it is a fait accompli of a total destruction of Hong Kong.
 
 
 
 
 

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