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La Jolla Mom

See Hong Kong’s Pink Dolphins Before They Are Gone

BY La Jolla Mom

If in Hong Kong with kids and the weather is cooperating, there are good reasons to consider a pink dolphin watching tour.

The endangered Chinese white dolphin or Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin is referred to as a pink dolphin due to its pinkish color, which in itself is interesting. However, a Hong Kong pink dolphin watching experience may not be possible in the future if dolphin numbers continue to dwindle.

Why Are They Pink?

Chinese white dolphins are pink or speckled pink. This is thought to have something to do with being able to see their blood circulation below skin that is naturally white as they regulate temperature. And, because they lack natural predators, they don’t really need the grey camouflage.

In addition to being pretty, guests rave about their friendliness. Meaning, you won’t directly interact with one, but you may be able to snap some fantastic photos.

Where Hong Kong’s Pink Dolphins Live

Some news agencies report that there are only dozens left in Hong Kong waters, though others—not many—do live in other parts of Southeast Asia and breed in the waters between Australia and South Africa.

Pink dolphins tend to stay on the Western side of Hong Kong near Lantau Island and up along the New Territories. The Sha Chau and Lung Kwu Chau Marine Park there is rich in nutrients and fish for the dolphins to feed on.

Threats to Pink Dolphins

The odds of seeing them cruising around Victoria Harbour are quite low, due to ferry and shipping traffic as well pollution. If you saw the pollution in Victoria Harbour and waters bordering other Pearl River Delta cities, you wouldn’t dare stick a toe in it (though swimming off some more remote beaches in Hong Kong away from shipping traffic can be fine).

Pearl River Delta cities are highly urbanized and, as you might imagine, a number of Chinese factories line the Pearl River and send massive amounts of industrial waste into the South China Sea. On our last CotaiJet ride from Hong Kong to Macau, I can tell you that the water was sludgy brown in most places.

How to Go Hong Kong Pink Dolphin Watching

Hong Kong Dolphinwatch is the most popular tour company and adheres to strict regulations (the Hong Kong Agricultural and Fisheries Department’s voluntary code of conduct) in order to protect the integrity of pink dolphins.

Meant to promote awareness of the Hong Kong pink dolphin’s plight (and indirectly make guests mindful of overall pollution risks), lectures accompany each tour and guests are sent home with information regarding things they can do to help the dolphin’s survival. The company claims to have been integral in contributing to pink dolphin-related publicity and has donated cash to local to dolphin research—measures they believe far outweigh the impact of their boat heading out to sea three times a week on these tours.

They’re the only Hong Kong pink dolphin watching tour operator that is recognized by the Government and Hong Kong Tourism Board for eco-tourism. Frankly, anything that alters behavior when it comes to pollution in Southern China is welcome in my book.

The tours last approximately three hours and run on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, departing from outside the Kowloon Hotel at 8:50 a.m.

Tips for Hong Kong Pink Dolphin Watching

Depending on weather, the waters can be a little choppy. Take preventative measures if your kids get motion sickness. I’ve been on little junks that have been smooth as silk and huge ferries that have rocked drastically from side-to-side in the waters surrounding Hong Kong. You just never know.

Imitation is alive and well in Hong Kong not only when it comes to designer handbags. Hong Kong Tourism Board recommendations are your best bets.

Because there aren’t many pink dolphins to begin with, you won’t see a plethora of them on these trips but Hong Kong Dolphinwatch spots dolphins 97% of the time, because they know where to go. If you don’t see one, they’ll let you return for free.

Yes, you can see pink dolphins in theme parks around Southeast Asia but there is something magical about seeing them in their (shrinking) natural habitat. Having lived in Hong Kong, I love it there and can’t stand that pollution is such a huge issue for wildlife and people. It might make you think twice about that “Made in China” label.

Taking the kids to see the Hong Kong pink dolphins (provided they are patient enough for the 3-hour tour) teaches an important lesson about the environmental preservation while enjoying a morning out at sea. Have you been?

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