The markets were great. The parks were great. But if you asked me what my favourite activity was during our week in Hong Kong, I can easily say it was our tour with Hong Kong Dolphin Watch to see the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins. The ones that live off the coast of Hong Kong are the Chinese white dolphin subspecies. Even more unique is that they are the pink variety not the white. These dolphins are born black and then slowly as they age they go grey and then eventually pink in their adulthood.
HK Dolphin Watch is the only eco-tourism operator for dolphin tours in HK. They offer tours on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays so plan accordingly. The tour met in front of the Kowloon Hotel by the Tsim Sha Tsui MRT and we were taken by coach bus to the pier at Lantau Island where we boarded a beautiful boat captained by an exceptionally experienced captain. He seemed to possess a secret dolphin radar as he could locate dolphins with great accuracy.
It was quite the sight to see the bright pink of the dolphins in the grey sea, especially on an overcast day. Unfortunately, my little point and shoot camera can just give you blurry shots of tiny pink dolphins. Our memories are thankfully much sharper.
What I wished my photos looked like but alas it’s a photo taken from the Dolphin Watch website:
The population of the pink dolphins are plummeting. There are only 61 of these special dolphins left in Hong Kong’s waters. They are currently being threatened by dwindling food supply (due to overfishing), heavy boat traffic, pollution, and habitat loss.
The Hong Kong pink dolphins live in a very select habitat at the mouth of the Pearl River. Unfortunately, their habitat is extremely polluted due to the combination of waste from Hong Kong and the waste coming down the Pearl River from China. All this gets absorbed into the dolphins’ bodies and in the case of females, the accumulated toxins gets passed onto their babies through their milk in high concentrations. The consequence is higher rates of disease and mortality for dolphin calves.
The dolphins are also facing significant habitat loss due to development and land reclamation. There are current plans for a third runway and passenger terminal for the Hong Kong International airport on Lantau where an expected 650 hectares of land is to be reclaimed. And for the past six years there has been construction of one of the longest bridges in the world right through the heart of the dolphins’ habitat.
Watching the last pink dolphins in the wild is something even more magical than Disneyland. It was also a melancholy experience because we know the threats they face and their future is unpromising. If you get a chance go see them before it’s too late.