About the Chinese White Dolphin Conservation Project funded by AUPRES


© WWF-Hong Kong
The kick-off ceremony of Aupres Chinese white dolphin conservation video shooting activity, 14 September 2010
© WWF-Hong Kong
The Chinese white dolphin (Sousa chinensis – internationally known as the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin) – occurs in shallow, nearshore habitat, usually close to river mouths. In Asia, limited information on population distribution exists, with the species confirmed from a few isolated areas in China, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, and the islands of Borneo and Java.

In China, historical sightings tell us that the species used to extend from the East China Sea, near Shanghai, to the Gulf of Tonkin in southernmost China. China coastal area has been greatly modified in the last few decades, and its marine resources have been depleted and degraded. Today, distribution has shrunk along the coast of mainland China and only five populations are known to remain in east and northern South China Sea;
  • the Jiulong River, Xiamen (Fujian Province),
  • the Pearl River Estuary, Hong Kong and Zhuhai (Guangdong Province), 
  • Sanniang Bay, Beihei (Guangxi Province), 
  • Zhanjiang Bay, Leizhou (Guangdong Province) and,
  • Jhuoshuei and Daan Rivers, between Miaoli and Tainan Counties (Taiwan) [this subpopulation was listed as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in August 2008] 
It is possible that other lesser-known remnant populations may still exist between these known populations, thus WWF proposed a three year conservation project that aims to define the true current extent of this species along the mainland coastline and to assess its status.

This project, generously funded by Shiseido – AUPRES, will promote academic exchange between marine mammal researchers from throughout China, will assist regional conservation efforts for Chinese white dolphins and will also increase public awareness on the plight of this extra-ordinary pink dolphin.

Researches on Chinese White Dolphin

© WWF-Hong Kong
Aupres dolphin watching trip at Tai O, 15 September 2010
© WWF-Hong Kong
Since early 2010, WWF has been contracting two mainland scientific institutes, namely South China Sea Fisheries Research Institute (SCSFRI) and Third Institute of Oceanography (TIO) for the conduction of a one-year Chinese white dolphin (CWD) study in the south of China. Data on distribution, abundance and habitat use of CWD in the western extent of Pearl River Estuary areas (WPRE) through vessel surveys, as well as those information related to CWD occurrence along the coast from Xiamen to PRE through fishermen interviews have been collected. Using both line transect and photo-identification techniques, WWF hope to understand more of this species latest population size, distribution and status.