Protecting Chinese white dolphins
Chinese white dolphins were once common in waters off north and northeast Lantau. But with ongoing and proposed construction developments and reclamation works, including the third airport runway project, Tung Chung New Town Extension, and Siu Ho Wan Reclamation, they now rarely frequent the area. Some individuals were found shifting their home range southwards to west and south Lantau waters, which may be one of the few remaining core habitats in Hong Kong.
Since late 2016, WWF-Hong Kong has been conducting underwater sound studies to examine potential human activity impacts on local cetaceans (specifically, dolphins and porpoises) off south and west Lantau, and around Soko Islands. Findings taken from the deployment of underwater recorders in the study area indicate that dolphins face challenging conditions off south Lantau, stemming from boat and ship noise disturbance, and potential collisions with vessels. Maritime activities along the vessel channels are expected to be more frequent due to marine development projects underway or commencing in the next 10 years.
Rerouting ferries away from key dolphin habitats, setting up a speed restriction zone in south Lantau waters, and reducing ferry shifts are three potential measures WWF has been exploring to mitigate the impact of marine traffic.
WWF urges the Government to take immediate action to save Hong Kong’s dolphin by managing the western and southern waters off Lantau Island as a dolphin conservation management area, with critical foraging and resting habitats strictly managed for vessel traffic and speed. Existing marine parks could be expanded and connected to establish a science-based, well-connected, and well-managed network of key habitats to help stabilise and recover the remaining dolphin population. Critically, vessel traffic and noise, as well as dolphin ecotourism activities, must be stringently managed in these waters in order to give the remaining dolphins a chance for survival.
The December 2017 upgrading of the Chinese white dolphin’s IUCN Red List status from near-threatened to vulnerable adds greater urgency to the need for the government to establish additional marine parks and act on marine traffic mitigation measures.
Read about the Tai O Dolphin Watching Interpreter Pilot Programme ", an eco-tourism project, designed to increase public understanding of ecological issues and threats faced by the dolphins. This project involved the creation of tailor-made sightseeing tours and dolphin-friendly guidelines for walla walla motorboat operators.
Learn more "about the Chinese white dolphin."