Chinese White Dolphin - Protection status

Common name:
Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, Chinese white dolphin, Pink dolphin

Species name:
Sousa chinensis

Global conservation status:
Vulnerable (IUCN Red List of Threated Species)
Chinese White Dolphin 
© Samson So
Chinese White Dolphin
© Samson So
Protection status:
  • Listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendix I. Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
  • Listed in the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) Appendix II. Migratory species that have an unfavourable conservation status or would benefit significantly from international co-operation are listed in Appendix II.
  • Listed as a “Grade 1 National Key Protected Species” in mainland China.
Hong Kong:
  • Protected under Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap 170) and Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plant Ordinance (Cap 586).
  • Sha Chau and Lung Kwu Chau Marine Park was designated in 1996, aiming to protect one of the most important habitats of Chinese white dolphins in Hong Kong. However, a number of their habitats recognised as important in Hong Kong are not legally protected.
© Third Institute of Oceanography
Chinese White Dolphin in Shantou
© Third Institute of Oceanography
Population distribution:
Chinese white dolphins are distributed in the coastal and inshore waters of the Indian and western Pacific oceans. There are four major populations in mainland China, including Pearl River Estuary (PRE), Xiamen, Beibu Bay and Leizhou. The largest population is found in the coastal areas of Pearl River Estuary, including the waters of Hong Kong and Macau.

There are only 32 individuals in Hong Kong. Its population size remains stable but threats continue to be serious and are mounting.

Resident populations of the Chinese white dolphin can be found year-round in the western waters of Hong Kong, particularly in north Lantau waters near Castle Peak, Sha Chau and Lung Kwu Chau Marine Park, Chek Lap Kok and Tai O. A number of them can also be found in the waters of south of Lantau – near Fan Lau and the Soko Islands. Among these areas, only Sha Chau and Lung Kwu Chau were designated at marine park to provide protection to this beloved marine mammal species.