A finless porpoise has washed up on the Tong Fuk beach yesterday, the latest in a spate of strandings.
The porpoise, about 1.1 metres long, was severely decomposed, with its abdomen and tail cut open.
The Ocean Park Conservation Foundation said it was not possible to determine the cause of the wounds.
The foundation says members of the public who find a beached porpoise or dolphin should call the 1823 hotline.
Photo: Apple Daily
Another finless porpoise has been found dead on a Lantau beach, taking the total to six deceased dolphins and porpoises since Chinese New Year.
Hong Kong Ocean Park Conservation Foundation says the decomposed body of a porpoise was discovered on Lower Cheung Sha Wan Beach on Saturday.
The porpoise, about 67 centimeters long, was taken to Ocean Park for further examination in order to understand the cause of death, Ming Pao reports.
The body of a stranded juvenile porpoise was discovered on Tai Long Wan Beach on February 20 – one of four deaths over the Lunar New Year.
Apart from one porpoise that was most likely struck by a marine propeller, most of the deaths appear to be a result of stranding.
Photo: Apple Daily/Ocean Park Conservation Foundation
The bodies of four finless porpoises have been found in the space of 36 hours across Hong Kong, including Lantau.
A stranded juvenile finless porpoise was found on the beach at Tai Long Wan in South Lantau yesterday. The 1.42-metre long female showed moderate body decay, Ocean Park Conservation Foundation (OPCF) said.
Two others were discovered near Sai Kung yesterday.
In the first case, a young adult 0.97 metres long was found at Ham Tin Bay Beach. It was severely decomposed and bore three wounds believed to have been caused by a propeller.
The other was an adult female found in the sea off Silverstrand Beach. It was 1.4 metres in length and severely decomposed.
On Sunday the body of another stranded finless porpoise was found floating near the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology pier.
It was 1.31 metres long and was moderately decomposed. It was transported back to Ocean Park.
OPCF estimates 200 Indo-Pacific finless porpoises inhabit Hong Kong waters. They are categorised as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Photo: Apple Daily/Ocean Park Conservation Foundation
WWF-Hong Kong has called for the government to reduce the impact of high-speed ferries on the endangered dolphin population off South Lantau.
It says the AFCD should consider rerouting ferries away from dolphin habitats or set up a speed restriction zone in the South Lantau waters as part of a holistic plan to reduce the effect of marine traffic.
The conservation group has just completed a 12-month underwater sound survey off southwest Lantau that found Chinese white dolphins and finless porpoises have altered their foraging patterns to avoid marine vessels.
Just 47 dolphins remain in Hong Kong waters, a result of continuous construction on the north side of Lantau and the heavy traffic on the southern side.
Dozens of ferries between Hong Kong and Macau pass through the channel between South Lantau, Cheung Chau and the Soko Islands every day, impacting on dolphins directly and on their food sources.
“Fast moving boats and ferries can inhibit their ability to locate food and increase stress levels,” said Dr Matthew Pine, a marine scientist and underwater noise specialist.
He says the survey found fewer dolphins were detected off Fan Lau between 3am-7am, suggesting they were being limited in their movement during the heavily-trafficked periods during the day.
They were using the quiet period in the early morning to cross to the Soko Islands, a key foraging habitat. Pine added:
“Ship strikes are a great risk for the mammals since we see them travelling across the ferry channel to forage around the Soko Islands, including at night when there’s no chance of ferries seeing them. Chronic exposure to high noise levels from vessels can cause desensitisation to vessel presence and inhibit communication between the animals, which may be a factor in a potential strike.”
Samantha Lee, WWF-Hong Kong’s conservation manager for oceans, says the AFCD, the marine sector and experts needed to work together to identify measures that would lower the impact of ferries on dolphins and safeguard their habitats.
“The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department must develop a holistic fisheries management and enforcement plan to facilitate the recovery of fisheries resources for the dolphins to prey on inside the marine park. With more to eat and a haven away from high-speed vessels, the Chinese white dolphin population can begin to recover.”
The government has proposed combining two marine parks off South Lantau to create the territory’s largest marine sanctuary as an offset to the arrival of the Shek Kwu Chau incinerator, which will add further to marine traffic density in South Lantau waters.
WWF is holding a public seminar at HKPC Building, Kowloong Tong, 11am today.
The plan to create Hong Kong’s largest marine reserve around the Soko Islands has won the blessing of WWF.
But the proposal from the EPD and AFCD also raises questions about the future of the islands.
The two departments have suggested expanding the original proposed reserve around the Soko Islands to include a large area to the east.
The new 2067ha South Lantau Marine Park would be Hong Kong’s biggest.
The proposal to the Country and Marine Parks Authority describes the enlarged area as “compensation” for the controversial incinerator to be built on the southern edge of Shek Kwu Chau Island, HK01 reports.
Additionally, a small area around the two main Soko islands, Tai A Chau and Siu A Chau, would be excised from the park for fishing.
Samantha Lee Klaus, manager oceans conservation at WWF-Hong Kong, says scientific studies have shown a large marine protected area “is much more conservation-effective than the scattered, small ones.”
The proposed new marine park (Source: AFCD-EPD)She told Lantau News:
Sokos waters are known to be the only habitat which we can find both Chinese white dolphins and finless porpoises at the same time in HK… As such, the proposed marine park is going to play an important role in conserving the marine environment and species.
But more importantly, the government shall allocate much more resources to strengthen the enforcement in combating the illegal fishing – this marine park is right next to the HK-China border, and illegal fishing has been reported by many fishermen in this area.
Aside from the marine conservation aspect, the plan once again puts on the Sokos, a group of islands two kilometres off Fan Lau on Lantau’s southwest tip, into the spotlight.
According to Oriental Daily, the South Lantau Rural Committee had argued that the park would constrain “future development” on the islands. But it’s not clear what that future would entail.
The islands have a chequered recent history. They were occupied until the 1980s, when Tai A Chau, the biggest island, was used as a camp for Vietnamese refugees.
The smaller island, Siu A Chau, contains a low-level radiation waste site.
In the 2000s CLP came up with a plan to build an LNG terminal on Tai A Chau, but abandoned it after public complaints.
In 2014-15 LanDAC, the government-appointed Lantau development body, discussed building a holiday spa on the island, but rejected it after CEDD found it to be unviable.
(This is still the case, although the EPD was forced to released a statement last night affirming it after the EDP-AFCD paper erroneously claimed the spa would go ahead.)
A month ago, it was revealed Lantau rural leaders had planned to ship the island’s cattle and buffalo to Tai A Chau. That plan, too, has been rejected by the AFCD because of the difficulty in accessing the location.
The corpse of a finless porpoise with a slightly injured tale was found on Upper Cheungsha Beach on Thursday morning.
Police called in a team from the Hong Kong Ocean Park Conservation Foundation who confirmed it was a male, about 1.4 metres long, aged between juvenile and adult, Oriental Daily reported.
The porpoise appeared to be stranded on the beach, but Ocean Park vets who studied the body say they are not certain over the cause of death.
According to AFCD figures, around 20 Indo-Pacific finless porpoises are stranded on Hong Kong beaches each year.
The Ocean Park Conservation Foundation urges people to call 1823 if they find a stranded dolphin or porpoise.
[This story was updated to indicate that Ocean Park vets are unclear over the cause of death]
Photo: AFCD file photo
A Chinese White Dolphin with its back lacerated and its tail cut was found floating off Discovery Bay last Friday.
The find takes the toll this year of the Chinese White Dolphin – also known as the pink dolphin – to 17. Sixteen deaths were reported to the end of July, mostly of carcasses found on beaches.
A local resident sighted the dolphin in open waters off Discovery Bay and reported it. A team from the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation later retrieved the corpse of an adult female dolphin near Peng Chau.
A vet who examined the dolphin said it had a deep one-metre wound on its dorsal fin, most likely the result of being struck by a boat, Apple Daily reported. The tail fin had been severed. The AFCD is following up the incident.
Dolphin numbers have fallen dramatically in the last ten years as a result of major projects such as the Hong Kong-Macau bridge and third airport runway.
The latest government survey found that just 47 remain in Hong Kong waters.
New marine parks have been declared off northern and south-west Lantau but conservationists say there is a need for another park off Tai O in west Lantau.
A decapitated dolphin was discovered on a Lantau beach this week, just days after dolphin meat was found on sale at a Zhuhai market.
A local resident, Ms Ho, found the body on the beach behind the Heung Yee Kuk school in Mui Wo and contacted 1823, HKET reported Monday. Another dolphin carcass had been discovered on the beach several months ago. Continue reading
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) project has caused a drastic fall in dolphin numbers in the past year – and worse could be to come, says conservation group WWF.
The AFCD’s annual dolphin tracking report shows that the dolphin population in Lantau waters has fallen 60% to just 65. Continue reading
Highlights from submission to the Development Bureau (full submission here).
No Vision, No Data, No Conservation
The decision-making process on Lantau’s future appears to be explicitly designed to exclude community input. From day one LanDAC membership has been almost wholly drawn from the real estate, tourist and logistics industries, along with government political supporters and appointees. The public rightly doubts the genuineness of this ‘consultation.’
The government plan offers no vision for the island: what will it be like to visit, live or work in Lantau in 2026, 2036 or beyond? The report doesn’t say. At the same time it tries to micro-manage tourist development in ways that are counter-productive. Continue reading