A Chinese white dolphin seen in the waters of Hong Kong. The species is facing a number of threats that may see the local population wiped out. The bright red high-speed ferry slows to 10 knots as it crosses the boundary of the Brothers Islands Marine Park just ahead of Boat The park, along with two others due to open in and , is a protected area designated for dolphin conservation.
The scheme is intended to offset disruption caused by development projects like bridge and third runway, but many dolphin advocates argue they are too little too late the Brothers park was not opened until five years after bridge construction began and do not reflect how the animals actually behave. Pointing to the still visible building site next to Chep Lap Kok he adds: "You can imagine all the noise underwater, all the construction vessels next to the marine park.
This will have a great impact on the function of the park. A new 2, hectare 5, acre marine park is due to be designated following the completion of the two megaprojects. AFCD said it considered doing so earlier, while construction was ongoing, but this was deemed "not practicable. The corpse lay half on its back, its distended stomach facing the sky, pink underside turned a deep, ugly maroon.
Flaps of yellowed skin hung off it, like peeling sunburn. Dressed in a white boiler suit, blue surgical gloves and a dust mask, the vet leaned over and delicately sliced the animal's stomach open with a scalpel. A smaller dolphin fell out in a spill of bloated, red intestines. The calf was gray in color, with beady eyes and a partially formed snout, and just as dead as its mother. More than dolphins have washed up on Hong Kong's beaches in the last four years, nearly all of them dead and in a state of decomposition. Most are killed by boat strikes, or wounded by nets and ropes, says vet Paola Martelli as he flicks through dolphin x-rays in his surgery in Ocean Park -- a sprawling aquarium, zoo and theme park on the south side of Hong Kong Island.
Whenever a beached dolphin is spotted the park sends out a team to carry out an autopsy and determine the cause of death or, very occasionally, bring the still living dolphin to the park for treatment, with limited success. They always die," Martelli says, explaining that by the time most dolphins come into human hands, they have suffered life threatening injuries, and even those which survive initially often succumb to secondary infections.
Dumisa, a bottlenose dolphin, opens her mouth to accept an injection from Ocean Park chief veterinarian Paolo Martelli. In a large building adjacent to his surgery, Ocean Park's pod of bottlenose dolphins -- a distant cousin of the pink dolphin -- swim through a series of light-blue colored pools, emitting clicks and the occasional high-pitched squeak.
One dolphin flops onto a raised platform and opens her mouth -- displaying dozens of small, white teeth and a large, muscular tongue -- to allow Martelli to carry out a routine dental exam, splashing her head in disapproval when she sees an anesthetic needle but otherwise complying happily. These dolphins, foreign imports to the city, are nevertheless the ones most familiar to many Hong Kongers, tens of thousands of whom troop through the park every year. Despite the park's efforts however, its executive director, Suzanne Gendron, said many visitors were still surprised to learn the pink dolphins exist.
I've only seen the ones at Ocean Park'," she said. Boat rocks violently as the Benita Schulte , a colossal, 50, ton Liberian-flagged cargo ship powers past, carrying red, green and blue stacked containers en route to the Port of Hong Kong, one of the busiest in the world. Last year, more than , vessels passed through the port, including huge container ships, small fishing boats, high-speed ferries, tugs, and cargo vessels of all shapes and sizes, churning up the water around them as they joined the constant stream of marine traffic into and out from the Pearl River Delta PRD.
The delta region stretches from the Chinese metropolises of Guangzhou, Dongguan and Foshan in the north, to Hong Kong and Macau in the south, where three rivers and a host of small tributaries meet and combine as they pour into the sea. The PRD is home to the world's largest population of Chinese white dolphins, estimated to less than 2, individuals , a minority of whom live and hunt in Hong Kong waters. Exactly how many is, like many things to do with dolphins, subject to some controversy.
Plight of the Pink Dolphin
While some research suggests those 47 are part of a larger transient group of a couple hundred, not all of whom live in Hong Kong waters year round, all agree the numbers are dropping. In a statement, AFCD said the drop in numbers for Hong Kong dolphins may be due in part to them shifting their habitat to Chinese waters, something the department predicted would be reversed once conditions in the city improve again. Dolphins are moving, but that doesn't mean they're headed into safer or more hospitable locations, said WWF's Lee.
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Human Impact The Amazon river dolphin is seen as a competitor for diminished fish stocks and is often killed or injured when people try to chase them away. Rue said Pinkie can be described as a curious dolphin who occasionally swims within five to 10 feet of his boat. While he recently discovered that she is a female dolphin, Rue said it's unclear where exactly she got her unique hue.
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I've changed what I thought over time, as I analyzed the pictures I have. Other than it being pink and her eyes not opening all the way, it's a perfectly normal dolphin and does all the things the rest of them do. Rue said he plans to compile photographs of Pinkie into a coffee table book. All rights reserved. Play Calcasieu Charter Service.
Pink dolphin protection is a powerful success | World Animal Protection USA
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