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There’s something good about COVID-19. Yes, you read correctly.
Because of the virus, ferry traffic is at a standstill in the waters between Hong Kong and Macao.
“Okaaaaay, but still?” You will ask.
Well, just imagine that the pink dolphins are back in these waters!
“Magnificent”, you will say.
Not so fast.
Scientists are still worried about the risk of the eventual disappearance of this emblematic species of the former British colony.
Damn business. It can never be okay, for more than three minutes.
Studying these dolphins has long been daunting.
Their population has indeed fallen by 70 to 80% over the past 15 years in this estuary, one of the most industrialized on the planet.
But this year, the pandemic had happy consequences for these cetaceans by causing a rebound in their population.
With the suspension of ferry traffic from Hong Kong to Macao since February, scientists have seen how much these mammals have adapted to this “unprecedented calm”.
“We are seeing much larger groups as well as much more mating and socializing behaviours, almost unheard of in about five years,” notes Dr. Lindsay Porter, a Hong Kong-based oceanographer.
According to his team, since March the number of Chinese white dolphins, known in Hong Kong as pink dolphins because of their colour, has increased by about a third in these waters.
“This place seems important for their eating and socializing. So it’s great that they have this refuge, ”says Ms. Brennan, a member of her team.
The Pearl River Delta is one of the most industrialized coastal regions in the world.
Besides Hong Kong and Macao, this gigantic conurbation also includes the huge Chinese cities of Shenzhen, Canton and Dongguan, with a total of 22 million inhabitants.
“Turning the tide”
The habitat of these cetaceans has been destroyed during the construction of gigantic infrastructure, including the Hong Kong airport and the longest sea bridge that connects Hong Kong to Macao and the city of Zhuhai, in the province of Guangdong.
According to WWF, there are only about 2,000 pink dolphins left in the mouth of the Pearl River, the minimum number to allow the survival of the species.
In addition, “dolphins, and in particular these estuarine dolphins, have a slow growth and reproduction rate,” said Laurence McCook, responsible for ocean conservation for WWF in Hong Kong.
While the absence of ferries provides a welcome respite for dolphins, it is only temporary.
These boats generate noise pollution which affects their communication and navigation. They also pose a physical threat to them, risking injury or death.
Source: Le Sac de Chips