Some might think that the closest you can get to eco tourism in Hong Kong is watching a shark’s fin floating in a bowl of soup but if you are tired of the crowded concrete footpaths, gleaming skyscrapers and glitzy shopping malls why not try to find the endangered Indo Pacific Humpback Dolphin, not only are they endangered but they are also pink,yes you read it right it is not a typo. Only around 150 of these exist in the waters around Lantau Island.
In the morning we were picked up in the lobby of the Kowloon Hotel by a guide from Hong Kong Dolphin Watch, which was established in 1995 to increase public awareness of these dolphins plight.
Once on the boat we were joined by about 25 other guests. First we were shown photos of fishing nets stuck to the dolphins and another dolphin with a scar below his blow-hole.
We were told that dead dolphins are routinely found on the shores of Hong Kong’s beaches, they usually tend to be young, some believe the baby dolphins especially the first ones to be born get a heavy dose of toxins from their mother’s milk.
Once out on the sea, taking in the sun on the roof of the cabin, eyes focussing on the water I could see why these dolphins were endangered, the new Hong Kong airport is located near by as well as a huge power plant that Homer Simpson would feel comfortable working in, plus all the boats that also use these water ways. I thought to myself dolphins boats and pollutions just don’t mix.
With nearly an hour gone past I was thinking that our chances were slim but our guide hadn’t given up with a 97% rate of finding these elusive mammals she was still as keen as when the boat first started sailing. The children on board by now were mostly sea sick and even my son couldn’t help but to contribute to the pollution in the sea.
“So why are these dolphins pink ” I asked the guide, who was always keen to answer a question.”Well they don’t really know she responded there are a number of theories, the dolphins don’t have a need for camouflage because they live in brackish water where the river meets the sea, where sharks aren’t found. The other one is that the dolphins are actually white but look pink because they are actually blushing while regulating their own body temperature”.
Whenever the boat saw a fishing vessel, the boat would turn off its engine and let the boat idle as everyone watched the tail end of the fisherman’s boat where the net entered the water.
We were told that it’s a common place to spot them as the dolphins find it a chance at an easy meal. Through the morning we had stopped near three boats but had no such luck but on this occasion the guide shouted “look,look 10 O’clock, there’s a dolphin at 10 O’clock”. Everyone looked where 10 O’clock would be if the sea was a clock and sure enough there was a dolphin. Over the next 30 minutes we spotted a few, even one of the regulars that the guide had named.
The dolphins are shy unlike the common dolphin that is often seen in other waters. They did not come near us, or leap out of the water, they were content amongst themselves but wearie of the environment around them at the same time, they did not seem to play but glide through the water, the only time you would see them was when they would come up for air every two or three minutes.
The guide was in her element telling us where to look and was happy with what we had seen but in a way it left us all a little disappointed to only see a glimpse of these mammals
As we sailed back I went to the cabin. I had a good look at the photos again and looked outside the window, coming back in view was the airport and I was left wondering what will happen to these dolphins will they survive or will it be just another creature that is lost to this world because of man.
Tour Information with Hong Kong Dolphin Watch
Hong kong dolphin watch is the only company currently guiding tourists to see the dolphins
Tours take place every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday