Only 37 Chinese white dolphins left in Hong Kong

Only 37 Chinese white dolphins remain in Hong Kong, according to the latest statistics from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

The Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society said that the sighting rate of the dolphin has dropped to a record low.

It pointed out that it has become much more difficult to spot the dolphins in South Lantau. Only a few were spotted in the past three years at a previous dolphin-watching hot spot Shek Kwu Chau due to the construction of an incinerator there.

The number of dolphins in Hong Kong fell to a record low of 32 in 2018/19. Although it rebounded slightly to 52 for the year 2019/20, it dropped again to 37 for 2020/21 – a worrying situation.

No dolphins were spotted in northeast Lantau, and only three were spotted in the northwest.

The research team recorded only three dolphin babies last year, the same as the previous year. Although the number is not as low as the historic lows of 2016 and 2017, when only one was recorded, the dolphin population is unlikely to increase without newborns, the group said.  

The HKDCS found similar survival and mortality rates for newborn dolphins this year, meaning that a conservative estimate is that one out of every two dolphins born will die during the mother’s nursing period.

The results suggesting that pollution in Hong Kong make it much more difficult for newborn dolphins to survive, the society said.

With a much reduced number of high-speed boats traveling to and from Macau and other mainland cities during the pandemic, the number of dolphins in the area grew in 2019.

Although the increase did not continue, the dolphins were found to appear in South Lantau waterways more often and stayed longer. They were also found to cross the waterways and use the offshore areas.

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