Wednesday, June 6, 2012

High-speed Ferries Threaten Hong Kong's Dolphins

Dolphin-watching from a ferry

It has been recently reported that a Hong Kong-based conservation group has found that an increase in high-speed ferry traffic is contributing to a dramatic decimation in the Chinese white dolphin population in the city's waters. A research by the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society indicated that catamaran and jetfoil ferry traffic is removing the dolphins from their natural habitats in the mouth of the Pearl River Delta. According to the Hong Kong Marine Department, high-speed ferry traffic between Hong Kong, China, and Macau has increased by 76 percent from 1999 to 2011. The society stated stated that the numbers of dolphins has plunged dramatically in the North Lantau waters since the opening of six ferry services at the Hong Kong International Airport's Skypier in 2003. Figures show that dolphin numbers in Hong Kong's waters decreased from 158 in 2003 to 78 in 2011, with about 2,500 in the Pearl River Delta. According to Samuel Hung, the society's chairman, the dolphins would hear a high-speed ferry until it is as close as 100 meters away which gives them only 10 seconds to react. As a result, the animals were leaving the area in search of safer waters. Dr. Hung further added that there have been plans to build a third runway on a reclaimed land at the airport, which would increase the ferry traffic and put more strain on the dolphin population.
Chinese white dolphin, also called pink dolphin

This article gives a clear idea of what happens to an animal population, due to the ongoing encroachment of humans. In this case, dolphins in Hong Kong's waters are being pushed out of their natural habitats in search of safer waters as a result of ferry traffic. This is an issue that needs to be addressed to both the government and the public, and call for efforts to prevent any further depletion of dolphins in Hong Kong. This unique marine mammal was the official mascot of the Hong Kong handover ceremony in 1997. In addition to that, dolphin-watching is a favorite tourist attraction in the city. If the traffic in high-speed ferries increases, then the dolphin population would deplete to the point in which the tourist industry will be greatly affected. This is why it is crucial to address this issue, and carry out efforts to save the dolphins from wandering off into areas where they might be met with some other danger of some sort. One of the ways I would recommend is to limit the number of ferries from Hong Kong to either China or Macao, and back. Also, the number of tourist ferries heading out into the waters should be limited as well. This would help keep the remaining numbers of dolphins in Hong Kong's waters to some degree. But the best way would be to consult and maintain contact with the dolphin conservation society. That way, Hong Kong's dolphins may remain in their habitats and continue to draw tourists from around the world.

View article here

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