Written by the Warrior
According to Wikipedia, “Hong Kong (or fragrant harbour in the local dialect) is situated on the Pearl River Delta of East Asia… It is one of the most important financial centres in the world… with a total land area of 1,106 square kilometers and a population of over 7.3 million… Hong Kong is renowned for its deep natural harbours, which enables ready access by international cargo ships.”
Sharing these deep waters with international cargo traffic, fishing vessels, heavy coastal construction and reclamation, chemical waste and untreated sewage, are Sousa Chinensis or Chinese white dolphins that actually appear to be pink. They are a species of the Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphins.
Hong Kong Dolphinwatch, founded in 1995 to raise awareness of the plight of the pink dolphins, offer informative dolphin-watching tours (2.5 hours) on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, year round.
On Christmas Day this past year, we boarded their vessel and set sail into the gorgeous harbour on a beautiful sunny day.
Along the way, we learned some very interesting information about these beautiful and playful creatures.
Pink dolphins are born about 1 metre long and dark grey in colour. Their colour fades as they grow, to white within a few years. Normally, it is believed that dolphins’ colourings help them camouflage into their surroundings. The theory is that, since the Chinese white dolphins have a tendency to live near estuarine habitats (near the mouths of rivers), where there is a lack of predators, they have lost their colourings. The pink colour is believed to be caused by “blushing”, i.e. blood flowing into the outer layers of skin when they swim, much like us blushing, when we workout.
While adult pink dolphins can live up to 40 years, the average life expectancy of those living around the Hong Kong harbour is estimated to only be about half of that.
With the pollution, over fishing, destruction of their habitats, as well as construction blasting damaging their sensitive eardrums, I think that it’s amazing that there are any pink dolphins left in the harbour at all (there are estimated to be 100).
Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, both on land and apparently in the sea. Obviously it is an environment that is severely stressed and stretched.
Sometimes, I feel sad for the world, as I see the destructive power we humans unleash. But, on that sunny Christmas day out in the harbour, despite everything they have to endure, I saw hope in the beauty and resilience of these playful pink souls.