Nothing good has happened to the pink dolphins, the mascot of Hong Kong reunification with China!
Updated: Apr 24, 2020
[Update April 2020] BBC reports in 2020 there are only 32 pink dolphins left in HK waters, down from 250 30 years ago!
HK is the least sustainable city in Asia
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) figures reveal Hong Kong’s ecological deficit is the largest in Asia. This is the difference between our per capita Ecological Footprint and our available biocapacity - this defines Hong Kong's "sustainability." The issue for "development" for all human communities is no longer financial "wealth" - it has already morphed into "sustainability."
If we can not save HK dolphins from extinction what chance do HKers have of saving our human selves?
Logically as a symbol of such an important event as sovereignty change the pink dolphins as mascot should be treasured and looked after by Hong Kong (HK) citizens and government - but this has never been the case in HK for the pink dolphins nor any other creatures (including humans) that live within our borders!
Dolphins, like humans, are mammals. Dolphins have larger brains than humans.
Since the 1997 handover to China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Hong Kong Government has been increasingly unable to resolve HK's human onslaught on the Earths' natural environment and species.
In 1997 the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, also called "pink" dolphin or "Chinese white" dolphin became the official mascot of the 1997 sovereignty changing ceremonies in Hong Kong (HK).
Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin or "pink" dolphin
An adult Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin is gray, white or pink and may appear as an albino dolphin to some. Uniquely, the population along the Chinese coast has pink skin, and the pink colour originates not from a pigment, but from blood vessels which were overdeveloped for thermoregulation.
Hong Kong's pink dolphins are a tourist attraction with tours provided by private companies.
The dolphins habitat is the brackish Pearl River Delta - the western waters of Hong Kong and includes the waters around Hong Kong's only international airport at Chep Lap Kok.
Close to the airport HK Government's Agriculture and Fisheries Department operates the Brothers Marine Park for conservation of these dolphins which is marked by the West Brother (Tai Mo To) passing the East Brother (Siu Mo To).
Humans and the environment
The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin is threatened by both habitat loss and pollution.
Conservationists warn that Hong Kong may lose its rare Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, also known as pink dolphins for their unique colour, unless China takes urgent action against pollution and other threats. Their numbers in Hong Kong waters have fallen from an estimated 158 in 2003 to just 78 in 2011, with a further decline expected by the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society. A tour guide from Hong Kong Dolphinwatch spotted a group of pink dolphins helping a mother support the body of her dead calf above the water in an attempt to revive it. The scene, captured on video and widely shared on Facebook, has raised fresh concerns about the dwindling population in a city where dolphin watching is a tourist attraction. "We’re 99 percent certain the calf died from toxins in the mother’s milk, accumulated from polluted seawater," said Hong Kong Dolphinwatch spokeswoman Janet Walker. Fewer than 2,500 of the mammals survive in the Pearl River Delta, the body of water between Macau and Hong Kong, with the majority found in Chinese waters and the rest in Hong Kong.
Plastics have become a major pollution problem for this dolphin population.
Destruction of their habitat includes:
Construction and reclamation for the Chep Lap Kok airport
Construction and reclamation for the HK - Zhu Hai bridge
The surrounding waters becoming a major channel for ocean going container ships
Continued overfishing in all HK water
Lack of a sizeable protected marine area for their continued peaceful existance in HK waters
The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). It is listed on Appendix II as it has an unfavourable conservation status or would benefit significantly from international co-operation organised by tailored agreements. In the interim of 2003–2013, the number of these dolphins in the bay around Hong Kong has dwindled from a population of 159 to just 61 individuals, a population decline of 60% in the last decade. The population continues to be further threatened by pollution, vessel collision, overfishing, and underwater noise pollution.
In addition to their natural susceptibility to anthropogenic disturbances, the Chinese white dolphin's late sexual maturity, reduced fecundity, reduced calf survival, and long calving intervals heavily curtails their ability to naturally cope with elevated rates of mortality.
1637: The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin was first documented in English by the adventurer Peter Mundy in Hong Kong near the Pearl River. The species are attracted to the Pearl River Estuary because of its brackish waters.
1765: Pehr Osbeck gives the first scientific description of the species.
Late 1980s: Environmentalists started to pay attention to the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin population.
Early 1990: The Hong Kong public started to become aware of the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin. This was due to the side effects of the construction of the Chek Lap Kok Airport. It was one of the world's largest single reclamation projects: the reclamation of nine square kilometers of the seabed near Northern Lantau, which was one of the major habitats of the dolphins.
Early 1993: Re-evaluation of the environmental effects of the construction of Chek Lap Kok Airport. This alerted eco-activists such as those from the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature in Hong Kong, in turn bringing media attention on the matter. Soon enough, the Hong Kong Government began getting involved by funding projects to research on the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins.
Late 1993: The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department was founded.
1996: Dr. Thomas Jefferson began to conduct research on the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins in hope of discovering more about them.
1997: The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin became the official mascot of the 1997 sovereignty changing ceremonies in Hong Kong.
1998: The research results of Dr. Thomas Jefferson was published in "Wildlife Monographs". 1998: The Hong Kong Dolphinwatch was organized and began to run dolphin watching tours for the general public to raise public awareness of the species.
2000: The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department started to conduct long-term observation of the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins in Hong Kong.
2000: The population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins has reached around 80–140 dolphins in the Pearl River waters.
Wild dolphin swimming around a marina at Middle Island, Hong Kong.