Dolphins are highly intelligent and social creatures. There are 49 known species of dolphin and porpoise species, two of which are local to Hong Kong – the Chinese white dolphin located just off Lantau Island and the finless porpoise!
Why are they threatened?
Dolphins and other cetaceans are under threat mainly because of humans. One of the main issues dolphins are facing today is entanglement from commercial fishing nets (or ghost nets). When dolphins get entangled, they are unable to reach the surface of the water to breathe which causes them to drown. It can also affect their ability to hunt and escape predators.
Pollution is also a big threat. Chemical pollution causes disease, depletes food sources and degrades habitats. While noise pollution and coastal development disrupt the ability of a dolphin to communicate, navigate and locate food.
Thousands of cetaceans die every year as a result and that number is growing.
Why is dolphin conservation important?
Being the top predator, dolphins and other cetaceans play an important role in keeping the environment healthy. Without them, their prey would increase in number which would unbalance the food chain and negatively impact other wildlife. Moreover, they are excellent bio-indicators of environmental health which can help to protect other marine species!
So how can we help?
By 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. If you can, try and invest in reusables such as a reusable water bottle, a to-go cup and a tote bag. Another great way of reducing ocean pollution is to swap your household cleaning products for environmentally-friendly alternatives. The chemicals from these products get washed down drains and into waterways which can be toxic for wildlife.
On a broader scale, OPCFHK also funded the Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute in 2020/21 to investigate the seasonal distribution pattern and habitat utilisation of the neighbor species –narrow-ridged finless porpoise; thus formulate an effective population protection strategy and habitat management system.
OPCFHK hopes that this article has enhanced your understanding of dolphins and the many threats they face, hence to be motivated to make small changes in your daily life to help protect the species!
Event date: 25 April 2021 (Sunday)
Registration period: From now till 13 April
Original article from Ocean Park Conservation Foundation
Cover image from Mandy Lo