Hong Kong's Striking Dolphins Dwindle to Just Dozens

ABC News Blogs
Hong Kong's Pink Dolphins Dwindle to Just Dozens
.

View photo

Hong Kong's Pink Dolphins Dwindle to Just Dozens (ABC News)

By SASHA HAN

BEIJING - The Chinese white dolphin, treasured by the people of Hong Kong people for its pink color and friendly nature, is in danger of being exterminated by pollution and a traffic jam of boats.

The dolphin, once the official mascot of the 1997 sovereignty changing ceremonies, draws tourists from around the world.

But the delightful dolphins are rapidly becoming in danger of extinction with the population decreasing by nearly 60 percent in the last decade. Conservationists warn that action must be taken if people hope to be able to see the dolphin in the coming years.

According to the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society the number of dolphins has decreased from 159 in 2003 to 61 just last year. This figure is expected to be significantly lower when the organization releases its updated report in late June.

Experts attribute this population decrease to five main factors: habitat loss from coastal development, water pollution, underwater noise pollution, vessel collision, and overfishing.

Beginning in the mid 1990's, over 3,500 acres of sea have been reclaimed in Hong Kong's western waters. This has inadvertently damaged a large portion of the dolphin's habitat in addition to greatly affecting the fishing industry. This has subsequently lead to a decrease in the dolphin's food supply.

The decline of the pink dolphins gained attention earlier this spring. During a dolphin watching tour, a popular activity for tourists visiting Hong Kong, a group watched as a mother dolphin struggled to lift the body of her dead calf above the water. This scene continued for about 30 minutes. In the end the dolphin was ultimately unable to revive the calf and was forced to swim away without it. A video of this tragic event quickly became viral, inciting considerable discussion among netizens worldwide.

A spokesperson from Hong Kong Dolphinwatch, Janet Walker, believes that the calf died due to "toxins in the mother's milk, accumulated from polluted seawater."

The pink dolphin is currently classified as a "near-threatened" species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (ICUN) Red List of Threatened Species while China places it as a Grade 1 National Key Protected Species, a list that includes the giant panda and golden monkey.

The announcement made earlier this week was not the first time a conservation group has attempted to increase public awareness about the dwindling dolphin population. During January 2012 the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong joined forces with a Chinese university to set up a DNA bank in order to save the animal from extinction.

Samuel Hung, head of the Dolphin Conservation Society, urges both government officials as well as Hong Kong citizens to stand up for the dolphins, claiming that the health of the dolphins is a reflection of "the overall health of our marine ecosystem."

View Comments (571)

Recommended for You

  • Bernie Sanders Believes Bill Clinton Has Hit Below the Belt

    Sen. Bernie Sanders believes Bill Clinton’s attacks on him have been inaccurate, he told ABC News today.And when asked whether Clinton has hit below the belt, Sanders said, "I think so."“Look, I know he’s going to be out there defending his wife; trust me, my wife will be out there defending me,”…

    Good Morning America14 mins ago
  • Cat and Rat's Adorable Friendship Shatters Stereotypes

    Behold, the incredible tale of the Peanut the rat and Ranj the cat, an unlikely pair of best friends. "Peanut always wanted to be around Ranj, and she took a real liking to him," their owner, Maggie Szpot of Cedarburg, Wisconsin, told ABC News. Szpot explained she and her family first rescued…

    Good Morning America23 mins ago
  • Ferguson Sued by Justice Department Over Alleged ‘Racial Bias’ in Policing

    "The residents of Ferguson have waited nearly a year for their city to adopt an agreement that would protect their rights and keep them safe," Lynch said. "They have waited nearly a year for their police department to accept rules that would ensure their constitutional rights ... They have waited…

    Good Morning America31 mins ago
  • Twitter's Day of Reckoning Is Here With Earnings Report, User Numbers

    Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey struck a hopeful tone for the year ahead in a call today with investors as the social media company revealed its user base remained stagnant in the last quarter. Growing its number of monthly active users has been a challenge for Twitter. Dorsey reported today the site has…

    Good Morning America
  • 7 Not-So-Typical Valentine's Day Ideas

    With Valentine’s Day less than a week away, people will be scrambling for last-minute reservations and heading to convenience stores to get one of the few remaining boxes of chocolate that are still lying on the shelves. But, for others, Valentine’s Day means dates spent in cemeteries or naming…

    Good Morning America
  • 'American Crime Story': Cuba Gooding Jr., Malcolm-Jamal Warner Recall Recreating Bronco Chase

    Tuesday night's episode of the FX series "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" recreated the former football star's famous slow-speed Bronco chase from two decades ago.Cuba Gooding Jr. plays O.J. Simpson in the series, and he told ABC News that filming those scenes was really emotional…

    Good Morning America
  • How the Infamous Ford Bronco Chase Was Recreated for New O.J. Simpson Show

    The executive producer of "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" revealed that it took him more than a year to convince officials to allow him to close a highway in order to film Simpson's infamous Ford Bronco chase with the LAPD.

    Good Morning America
  • Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Due Back in Port Tonight

    The Royal Caribbean cruise ship that was rocked by stormy weather is set to arrive back in port tonight, where it will be inspected by the Coast Guard. The ship, which left from the same port on Saturday and was due to head out on a week-long cruise to the Bahamas, was supposed to arrive sooner…

    Good Morning America
  • Chris Christie Formally Suspends Presidential Campaign

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie formally suspended his presidential campaign today. "I leave the race without an ounce of regret," the New Jersey governor wrote in a Facebook post announcing the news. The decision comes a day after the New Jersey governor came in a disappointing 6th place in New…

    Good Morning America
  • WWII Veteran Reunites With Long-Lost Love After 70 Years Apart

    After a 10,000-mile long flight from Virginia to Australia, a World War II U.S. army veteran finally reunited with his wartime girlfriend today after recently reconnecting online. For the first time in over 70 years, Norwood Thomas, 93, came face-to-face with Joyce Durrant Morris, 88, his…

    Good Morning America
  • Justin Bieber Says 'I Really Love' Hailey Baldwin

    People have been speculating about Justin Bieber’s relationship status with model Hailey Baldwin ever since he posted an Instagram photo of the two smooching to ring in the New Year. Justin hasn’t yet confirmed if their friendship has turned romantic, but he told GQ magazine that the two are quite…

    Good Morning America
  • New Video From Iranian State TV Appears to Show US Sailor Crying While Detained

    New video broadcast on Iranian state TV today appears to show a U.S. sailor crying while briefly detained by Iran in early-January. The video released by the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network appears similar to footage aired at the time the sailors were detained, a U.S. Department of Defense…

    Good Morning America
  • Carole King's Landmark Album 'Tapestry' Was Released 45 Years Ago Today

    Today marks the 45th anniversary of the release of Carole King's classic album "Tapestry," which established the prolific singer-songwriter as a major solo star. Throughout the 1960s, King had churned out hit after hit for other artists with her husband and songwriting partner, Gerry Goffin, but…

    Good Morning America
  • Teresa Giudice Describes How She Survived Prison

    On Tuesday night, she shared with Andy Cohen on "Watch What Happens Live" how she survived her 11 and a half months at the Federal Correctional Institution-Danbury, a minimum-security prison in Danbury, Connecticut. "I felt like I was dying, in reality, that's how I felt," the "Real Housewives of…

    Good Morning America
  • 'Family Feud' Contestant Speaks Out About Her Hilarious Repeated Answers

    In the greatest “Family Feud” fail to sweep the Internet, contestant Sheila Patterson's responses have gone viral with more than 1.3 million views as she struggles to come up with other ways to say “mother.”She continues to repeat answers already provided by her siblings, eventually driving host…

    Good Morning America
  • The Elderly Being Conned Into Trafficking Drugs

    Floridian Ralph Soles, 74, said he was caught transporting methamphetamine into New Zealand two years ago. “I lost a lot,” Soles said. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) announced today an investigation into the scam for the first time and…

    Good Morning America
  • Traveling 1-Year-Old Has Visited 12 Countries With Backpacking Parents

    Meet little Esmé Bayes, the 1-year-old world traveler. At just 10-weeks-old, she was off with her parents, Karen Edwards and Shaun Bayes, on her first trip to Singapore. “At 8 weeks old she went to Ireland but not sure I count that so much,” Edwards told ABC News.

    Good Morning America