Hong Kong construction threatens endangered ‘pink’ dolphins

Two megaprojects could have devastating impact on the dolphin’s habitat, conservationists warn

PHOTO: There are an estimated 60 ‘pink’ dolphins left in Hong Kong’s waters, a steep drop off from the 158 counted in 2003. Credit: Shutterstock

Conservationists have warned that Hong Kong’s famous ‘pink’ dolphins are under threat due to two major construction projects currently being planned for the territory.

Chinese authorities plan to expand Hong Kong’s airport and build a new bridge to Macau.

But the two mega-projects are expected to have a major impact on the dolphin’s habitat, chiefly due to land reclamation and increased traffic, experts have said.

A proposal has been put forward to construct a third runway at Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok airport, and campaigners have said that it could be the final nail in the coffin for the Chinese White Dolphin, popularly known as the ‘pink dolphin’ due to its pale pink colouring.

“We think that if the project goes ahead, then it will probably drive the dolphin away from Hong Kong waters,” said Samuel Hung, chairman of the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society, in a report by The Guardian. The society has been going out to sea at least twice a week to monitor dolphin activity for almost 20 years.

“In some ways, it seems like we’re pushing them closer and closer to the edge of the cliff and if we’re making that final push, then they’ll be gone forever. I think now is the time to get our act together,” Hung added.

There are an estimated 60 dolphins left in Hong Kong’s waters, he said, a steep drop off from the 158 counted in 2003. The dolphin pods in the harbour draw scores of tourists daily to the waters north of Lantau Island.

The government has said that the potential impact caused by the building of a third runway have been ‘properly addressed and assessed’.

“To compensate for the permanent loss of Chinese white dolphin habitats arising from the land formation works, the designation of a new marine park of approximately 24ha in the waters of north of the third runway project has been proposed,” a statement from the agriculture, fisheries and conservation department said in the newspaper’s report.


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