Hong Kong’s plans to add a third runway to their international Chek Lap Kok airport and construct a 31 mile bridge to Macau— a popular gambling destination— threaten the existence of Hong Kong’s ‘pink’ dolphins.
The white dolphin is known as the pink dolphin because its skin color varies from a mixture of grey and pink to all pink. Regardless, the species numbers have decreased drastically over the years. According to the Honk Kong Dolphin Conservation Society, numbers went from 158 in 2003 to 61 in 2014.
The decline is due to pollution that comes from ferry traffic, overfishing, and insufficient waste management that results in plastic, fertilizer, and heavy metals contaminating the waters the dolphins reside in.
Also adding to decreasing pink dolphin numbers is unregulated dolphin tours. Fishermen in the nearby village of Tai O conduct the tours that make up ten percent of tourist business and many of them don’t take the necessary precautions to avoid disturbing the mammals.
Conservationists believe that the two ongoing construction projects will result in a total disappearance of the dolphins; Hong Kong could lose the rare animals if conservation efforts don’t begin.