Is this the final nail in the coffin?

If I were to ask you what you considered to be an iconic species of whale or dolphin what would your answer be? Much I'm sure would depend on where you live, what you've read and what your own experiences are. Some perhaps would say the mighty blue whale, the largest creature ever to have lived. Others might say the very vocal humpback whale, or how about the bottlenose dolphin, the dolphin with that iconic smile and that almost everyone knows by name? For me however, it's the Chinese white dolphin who live in the ever-burgeoning waters of Hong Kong. In my opinion, they are possibly the most resilient and adaptable dolphin ever to have existed but for how much longer can they keep up the fight? In the face of pressure surely there has to be a point where they just cannot survive … sadly that day might be sooner than we thought.


Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin
Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin

 

Chinese white dolphins are otherwise known as Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, a coastal and freshwater obligate (meaning that although they are marine, they rely on freshwater input to survive - hence they can't just up sticks and leave, they're tied to the river estuaries) and they are found from South Africa all the way to Australia. Historically scientists thought that they were all one species (and even one big population that inter-bred) but as with so many other species the truth is quite different and in fact the species has recently been split into four, with further sub-divisions of populations that remain geographically and genetically isolated from others of their ilk. The population found in the waters of the Pearl River Estuary (lying between Macau, China and Hong Kong), are one such group of isolated individuals. They are also unique in the fact that unlike their counterparts elsewhere, these dolphins are pink in colour … born grey, they slowly change colour and to this day, although there are some theories, no-one really knows why!


Chinese white dolphin and calf
Chinese white dolphin and calf

 

These poor little guys have to deal with more potential threats than any other coastal whale and dolphin anywhere in the world. In the past 15 years, their preferred habitat has been decimated with huge chunks of it reclaimed to make way for a new airport, a Disneyland theme park, deep-water container ports, bridges, contaminated mud pits … the list goes on. Hong Kong is also one of the busiest shipping ports in the world with hundreds of container ships passing through every day, not to mention the number of fast-ferries that traverse the waters backwards and forward to the outlying islands at all times of the day and night. Not only do the dolphins run the risk of vessel collision but they sometimes get entangled in fishing gear, more often than not with deadly consequences. And then there's the pollution - possibly one of the most worrying threats to face these dolphins and a direct cause of high calf mortality - in some years NO calves survive due to the pollutant off-load they receive from their mother, who's milk is full of toxins. How long can these dolphins fight against the tide of development? How long before they no longer grace the waters of Hong Kong with their presence?

Pollution in Hong Kong
Pollution in Hong Kong

The Airport Authority have followed process and undertaken an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the report of which is now open for public consultation. Unfortunately, when it comes to the impacts of this planned construction on the dolphins, we believe this report to be seriously flawed. We do not agree with the conclusions of the report, we do not believe that the proposed mitigation measures are adequate or even appropriate - one measure for example is to create a marine park for the dolphins. Nice idea right? Well, not if it's not being created until 2023, AFTER the construction has been finished, and not if it's in the wrong area, an area that has not been highlighted as important for the dolphins. The very siting of the runway would mean that two travelling corridors used by the dolphins on a daily basis would be affected, meaning that the dolphins would find it difficult, if not impossible to move between areas important for their survival. Although suggestions have been made to limit the noise pollution, to limit vessel traffic (at least the speed at which traffic will travel) and to keep other pollution to a minimum we still do not believe that enough is being done to protect these beleaguered and vulnerable dolphins.

Hong Kong fast ferry and Chinese white dolphin
Hong Kong fast ferry and Chinese white dolphin

WDC are joining many others in calling for a full and independent scientific review of the EIA (where it pertains to dolphins) and asking the Hong Kong authorities to reject the current proposal to build a third runway.

And here’s where you come in … If you want to help, please make your voice heard and join us in calling for a review of the existing data. It's easy to do … you can go online and read the full EIA report here. Underneath you’ll see a box that says “send comment”. Alternatively, send an e-mail to eiaocomment@epd.gov.hk noting your disagreement with the report findings. Please be polite, state clearly your name and address, ask them to reject the report's findings relevant to the dolphins and to undertake an independent scientific review of all available data on the population of Hong Kong Chinese white dolphin. Importantly, time is running out and the window of opportunity to submit comments closes on Saturday 19th July 2014 - so please, act now!

These iconic dolphins need us now more than ever …

Comments

Please do not do anything else to endanger these beautiful creatures.

26 years ago I was lucky enough to see these magnificent dolphins - white is not the right name they are cerise pink and absolutely incredible! Imagine seeing a cerise dolphin after a long day on a business junk and shouting "I have just seen a bright pink dolphin!" Well a few gruelling moments later thankfully the whole pod appeared and saved my reputation! What a sight! Don't let them endanger these totally incredible creatures, or any, whatever colour for that matter!

Please remember that these beautiful creatures belong to Allah (God) and on judgement day they will speak about how you made them suffer so you should do nothing to harm them.

Remember instead that they are living creatures and don't deserve to suffer.. need not fear of God's wrath, to be nice..

No mercy for the humanity

Its wrong the way humans have taken dolphins and whales out of there own environment and split up there families! Plz leave them alone they don't belong to us

Jeder hat ein Recht auf das Leben.
Er ist wunderschön.

Please review and reject these report findings

What to say? How very sad and pathetic of HK. Only 62 dolphins remain. They would like that number to be zero. Every Airport Authority action in the past two decades indicate this. WE are a tragic species

Please, no more.... There are so many beings that are much more important than money. Stop the greed and learn to live, live, and appreciate all things that are not man-made!

The planet will lose another fantastic species thanks too human greed and development.

Please stop hurting these beautiful animals once they are gone u can never get them back please save them

Plse stop!These beautiful creatures will be no more?How can you let this happen???

It is important and the duty of the Chinese government and every people in the area to make sure that survival of the Hong Kong Chinese White Dolphin will be quaranteed. Noone has right to destroy these animals. Please act now to save them.

Please reconsider this devastating ecological decision.

China has such a history of doing the wrong thing when it comes to animals and the environment. Please turn it around now.

Please anything we can do should done to save them!

A mere 62 of these creatures left, are you this uneducated that you think animals are not important in this world, you are upsetting the whole balance of our existence!

what a great positive image for China to save these white dolphins. The world will think you (china) are so advanced!

Let these animals live and flourish.

Another species bound for extinction. !!!!! SIGH -:(((((( please do all it takes to help these beautiful creatures . . once again humans are the instigator of the demise of yet another creature on planet Earth . . WTF !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

China needs to finally rethink. In this century, there is no justification for such an inhuman, cowardly and irresponsible actions! Please stop the extinction of this wonderful dolphins!

Please act now , make a vice to save those chinese white dolphins . chinese people need to start be aware about their environment before it gets too late . we stepping out of nature which is very bad and we have to remember we are ourself a nature . learn how to appreciated and respected . ….

Please consider the Dolphins, they have every right to exist.

IT'S OUR DUTY AS HUMANS TO PROTECT THEM. PLEASE SAVE THE SPECIES.

I care about these rare dolphins. Please make sure to protect them for our wise future generations. The dolphins have a needed role to play where they live and that should be respected even if one does not understand it. Thank you.

Please save these beautiful creatures.
Dolphins are non-human persons, sentient beings and deserve to live.

Conservation of these animals should be more important than the expansion of the airport.
If you their protection cannot be guaranteed then no expansion should take place.

China.. do the right thing. Their lives are worth more than a few million dollars.

Conserving a unique species such as these dolphins is more important than the expansion of the airport. These beautiful creatures deserve to be protected and cherished, China... the world is watching!

Another animal heading for distinction... Horrific, sort it out HK and save these vulnerable animals and calfs before it's too late!!!!

We, as human beings need to learn how to share this planet.
Other creatures and souls have as much right to live.

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