Artificial Reefs for Brothers Marine Park Proposed

On the 29th of June the government gazetted a proposed plan for artificial reefs to be built inside the Brothers Marine Park, to improve the habitat and boost fish numbers. The artificial reefs will cover around 0.7 hectares inside the 66-hectare marine park off Lantau to the east of the airport.

The works are tentatively scheduled to start at the end of 2018 and should be completed by 2019.

The marine park has been identified as an important habitat for endangered Chinese White Dolphins, and a spawning ground for commercially important fish species.

Grouper Reef by Reefmaker deployed off Mexico Beach, Florida USA. Reproduced under cc-by-sa 3.0
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Dolphins & Porpoise Found Dead During Lunar New Year

A dolphin concern group published on its social media page that one chinese white dolphin (Sousa chinensis) and four finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides) were found stranded between Saturday the 17th and Monday the 19th of February. Autopsy scans found food remains in the dolphins, showing they were not starved to death. However, they showed multiple fractures. It is feared they were hit by motorboats as they had injuries on their heads and necks.

One finless porpoise was almost cut in half by what is thought to have been a boat propeller.

The adult Chinese white dolphin was found stranded at Mo To Chau. It was a 2.5-meter female, at least 10 years old, and with signs of choking, bone fractures and serious bone dislocation. The death of an adult female is a great loss to the species’ population growth, with numbers in Hong Kong down from over 120 some years ago to 47 at present.

In the past three years there have only been 3-4 stranded cetaceans in tyhe months of January and February. This year, more than 10 dead cetaceans have been discovered in the same period.

High-speed boats are always a big threat to dolphins and some might be hit by propellers and never be discovered. The Dolphin Conservation Society of Hong Kong (HKDCS) has urged the government to launch a speed restrictions on boats around dolphin and porpoise habitats or even ban them from entering these areas.

According to the HKDCS only one new-born Chinese white dolphin was recorded last year. With the loss of another adult female dolphin, there is a dwindling chance of recovery of the local population.

HK Dolphinwatch, the 3rd Runaway and Underwater Hydraulic Drilling

Yesterday we spent a fantastic morning doing some dolphin watching with HK Dolphinwatch. Leaving from the Tung Chung New Development Pier at Tung Chung we cruised along north Lantau towards Tai O, where we then encountered a group of 5-6 Indopacific Humpback Dolphins (Sousa chinensis), know locally as Chinese White Dolphins or simply the pink dolphins. They gave us plenty to look at with tail-splashing, jumping and coming in quite close to the boat. While I am no photographer and have no clue how to use my Nikon DSLR, I think the resulting pictures are still pretty good.

 

A rare shot showing the dolphins head. You can see the bulge at the front of the head, where an organ called "the melon" is located which plays a role in the dolphins echolocation system.
A rare shot showing the dolphins head. You can see the bulge at the front of the head, where an organ called “the melon” is located which plays a role in the dolphins echolocation system.
Some say its dolphin watching, I wonder though, as this dolphin seems to be out people-watching.
Some say its dolphin watching, I wonder though, as this dolphin seems to be out people-watching.
Coming up for air.
Coming up for air.
Diving down a dolphin stretches its flukes up, that seem to be waving good bye.
Diving down a dolphin stretches its flukes up, that seem to be waving good bye.
Two pink dolphins with the constructions barges for the MAcao-Zhuhai Bridge looming on the horizon.
Two pink dolphins with the constructions barges for the MAcao-Zhuhai Bridge looming on the horizon.
A group of 3 curious dolphins
A group of 3 curious dolphins
A rare shot of a dolphin almost straightedned out with the fluke visible under the water
A rare shot of a dolphin almost straightedned out with the fluke visible under the water
The name Indopacific "Humpback" Dolphin is an apt one.
The name Indopacific “Humpback” Dolphin is an apt one.
A dolphin with a slightly notched dorsal fin in front of our boat
A dolphin with a slightly notched dorsal fin in front of our boat
A dolphin about to smack his flukes loudly on the water surface.
A dolphin about to smack his flukes loudly on the water surface.
The grey color indeicates a younger individual compared to the white dolphin.
The grey color indeicates a younger individual compared to the white dolphin.

If you have kids, this is probably the No.1 outing for your budding marine biologists, not just because of the dolphins (always popular!), but also because you and your kids can see the impact humans have on wildlife right there in front of you. Among the many threats thatthe dolphins face, the latest one is the Macao-Zhuhai-Bridge being constructed right through their habitat, as well as the proposed 3rd runway for the Chek Lap Kok airport. Before the Chek Lap Kok airport was build there were thought to be aroudn 150+ dolphins in the area. Then came the blasting and levelling off of the small island of Chek Lap Kok which was then used to fill in a 9 square kilometer area for the airport as well as surrounding infrastructure and development. And then the construction of the Macao-Zhuhai-Bridge started. Now it is just 60 odd. Why? Among the reasons surely is noise. As most people will know, dolphins don’t just communicate with sound, they also use it for echolocation especially in the murky and muddy waters of estuaries where our pink dolphins live.

The below video was made and posted to Vimeo by Sea Shephard Hong Kong and shows you just how bad the noise levels in the dolphins habitat are.

Underwater construction noise is the equivalent of shining flood lights in humans faces. Imagine trying to make your breakfast, work, do the supermarket shopping, take care of children or hold a normal conversation while all the time someone pointing a search light in your face thats constantly flickering – you would not get much done! And you would be super stressed.
Thats how the dolphins feel – and these constructions projects last several years!
But there is more: add sewage, heavy boat traffic and high speed ferries, toxic algal blooms, heavy metal contamination, PCB’s and organochlorides, flame retardant chemicals to the mix and the fact that there is little to eat because the seas are so overfished and the seabed was trawled so heavily that it does not support much in the way of food production anymore.
Sticking with the dolphin-human analogy: not only would you suffer from blinding lights day-in-day-out for years, your children might be stillborn or die soon after birth because your body passed to your child environmental contaminats from the little food you could find in these famine conditions. And then cars, trucks and trains constantly bomb through your garden and house unpredictably, frequently maiming or even killing a member of your family or a neighbor.
In short, you can see, that you would not want to be reborn as a pink dolphin in Hong Kong!
Unless we start to do something about it. Check out the below links to find out more about how you can help.

Hong Kong Dolphin conservation Society

Voice your concerns about the Third Runway roject with WWF HK

 

 

 

Pretty in Pink – the Chinese White dolphins

Humpback dolphin by Tracy Meintjes There is a lot of information on the internet about the Sousa chinensis, the Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphin, also known as the Chinese White Dolphin or the Pink Dolphin, so I won’t repeat any of it here. Instead here are some links to organizations and people that deal with the topic full-time:

 

But just because I found some old images on my computer, here are 3 blurry images of the dolphins from a distance.

Some images of the Chinese White Dolphin or Pink Dolphins (Sousa chinensis) taken back in 2002 (Credit: Chris Cornelius)