Flipping and flapping its way through the murky waters that surround Chek Lap Kok, the Chinese white dolphin looks remarkably like an out-of- control inflatable toy. It is, in fact, a Pacific humpbacked dolphin. The vivid pink colouring of Hong Kong's dolphin (sousa chinensis) makes the local variety unique - a feature, experts suspect, may result from a lack of pigmentation. Living with the polluted effects of a major infrastructure project, and in constant danger of being sliced by the propellers of ships, the dolphin is only just surviving. One hopeful sign is the new marine park sandwiched between the airport platform and an aviation fuel receiving facility. However, even this project has its critics. Environmental groups, the World Wildlife Fund among others, say the park is not big enough and badly situated. Ironically, it was the life-threatening airport project that started people thinking about this little understood species. To find out more, the Swire Institute for Marine Science and the University of Hong Kong carried out research for the Government. That work led to several recommendations, one calling for the Government to join forces with Guangdong authorities to draw up an action plan to protect dolphins across the Pearl River estuary. The Airport Authority itself commissioned a study under dolphin expert Bernd Wursig of Texas A and M University's Institute of Marine Life Science. From that, the idea to establish the 12-km-square marine park at Sha Chau took hold. The park, located by the airport's fuel receiving facility, has a buffer zone where limits are put on fishing and trawling. The pipeline building project (to link the loading facility with the airport proper) had already set dolphin lovers worrying. But Timothy Peirson-Smith, technical director at Environmental Resources Management, said extensive measures were taken during the construction of the pipeline to preserve the seabed and minimise any disturbance of the dolphins.