The body of a pregnant Chinese white dolphin was found off Lamma Island on Sunday. The find comes amid growing concern over the lowest population of the dolphins recorded this year.
According to the latest report by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) last week, only 47 dolphins were found in 2016-17. This a 27 per cent drop from 87 dolphins recorded in 2010-11.
The Ocean Park Conservation Foundation said the 2.5-metre long female dolphin was severely decomposed. After conducting an on-site autopsy, the team discovered a dead foetus, about one metre long.
The team’s spokeswoman said the dolphins had no obvious injuries, so they didn’t know what caused their deaths. The bodies were taken to Ocean Park for further analysis. Anyone with information is asked to call the hotline at 1823.
Taison Chang, the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society chairman, told Young Post today that the body of the adult dolphin had not been mutilated, so it’s likely her death was not caused by a boat propeller.
“There might be many reasons for the death. In this case, there’s a chance the mother had difficulty delivering the calf. Further investigation is needed to confirm the exact cause of death,” he said.
Chang explained there are three main reasons for why so many white dolphins die.
“They get tangled up in fishing nets. Some get hit by boats,” he added. In 2015, a male dolphin was severely injured by a boat propeller. He was taken to Ocean Park for treatment, but was eventually euthanised. The third cause, Chang said, was of infections caused by parasites and bacteria.
Chinese white dolphins are more commonly found off the coast of Lantau Island, an area that is undergoing reclamation work for the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge and, in the future, by the construction of a third airport runway.
High-speed ferries, Chang added, also negatively affects the dolphins too, as the noise of the ferries as they pass through the area disturb them and force them out of their natural habitats.