Protecting Chinese white dolphins | WWF Hong Kong

Protecting Chinese white dolphins



 
	© Samson So
The Chinese white dolphin is a top predator species and an excellent indicator of the health of our marine ecosystem. Hong Kong is part of the home range for the Chinese white dolphin population in the Pearl River Estuary. But today, just 32 individuals frequent Hong Kong waters, a decline of more than 80 per cent in the last 15 years. Only 16 calves were spotted over the last year, representing a mere 1.5 per cent of the total sighted dolphin number. The record-low figures highlight the urgent need for immediate action to save the species.

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."
HYDROPHONES CAN SAVE HK’S DOLPHINS 
	© WWF-Hong Kong
HYDROPHONES CAN SAVE HK’S DOLPHINS
© WWF-Hong Kong
Learn more about hydrophones 
	© Oceans Instruments NZ
Learn more about hydrophones
© Oceans Instruments NZ

Learn more about hydrophones

 
	© WWF-Hong Kong
A safe haven for dolphins
© WWF-Hong Kong
Map of Threats to the Chinese white dolphins - 3rd runway 
	© WWF-Hong Kong
Map of Threats to the Chinese white dolphins
© WWF-Hong Kong
Audrey Tam 
	© WWF-Hong Kong
Audrey Tam
© WWF-Hong Kong

Audrey’s story