Already dwindling numbers of the iconic Pink Dolphins in China seem to be slipping even lower and further misuse of other dolphins have also come to light.
The also known Chinese White Dolphins have always been a popular and beloved tourist attraction of Hong Kong. Unfortunately the constant destruction of their habitat and heavy pollution has their numbers at an all-time low. The already meagre number of 159 in 2003 has now faltered to just 61.
Ironic it would seem that the city chose this unique creature to be its mascot when the former British colony was handed over back to its Chinese rule in 1997. Further causes for their declining numbers have also been credited to high-speed ferry traffic and construction that has been proposed to expand the city’s airport. The Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society has thus taken to weekly excursions to monitor the city’s dolphin populations.
Samuel Hung, head of the Dolphin Conservation Society has stated that these rosy hued animals are a treasure of their natural heritage and that their decline indicates the overall health of their marine ecosystem.
Further south in Sanya in the Hainan Province, reckless tourists caused the death of a stranded dolphin. The injured dolphin washed up on shore on Sunday with wounds to its tail fin. Instead of calling the officials, tourists lifted the wounded creature fully out of the water to pose for photos with it. Lifeguards arrived on the scene and tried to return the poor animal to the water, but it kept returning. In the end, the lifeguards formed a protective circle around the animal until fishery authorities showed up to take the dolphin to a saltwater pool to be treated.
Despite their efforts, the dolphin passed away late Sunday night. The cause for the animal’s death is due to a combination of things. The loss of blood from the tail fin wounds, water on the dolphins lungs and the flashing of the cameras that confused the dolphin and had it returning to the beach again and again.
Photos of the stranded dolphin and tourists holding and posing with it soon reached the Twitter-like Sina Weibo and comments started streaming in. It resulted in the trending hashtag “Leave the dolphin alone, please” and an utter outcry from the public.
This serves as a good reminder to us all to contact Sea Rescue or authorities able to handle such situations immediately after spotting a stranded and/or injured animal. Such unnecessary deaths can be easily avoided and it is our responsibility to protect our precious wildlife.