Rare Pink Dolphin Population Rises Greatly Due To COVID-19 Shutdowns

by Jon D. B.
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Watch this incredible footage as the rare pink dolphin shows great strides during less-trafficked COVID-19 waters.

Hong Kong’s mythic – but very real – pink dolphin is making an incredible comeback. As the ongoing pandemic slows traffic around the world, wildlife is making a resurgence in some unexpected places.

Lindsay Porter, a marine researcher and expert on the dolphins, is ecstatic to see them reclaiming their habitat.

“It seems very quickly that the dolphins have come back into this waterway… What we have noticed since the ferries have stopped in this area is dolphins we hadn’t seen for four, five, six years are back in the Hong Kong habitat”

Lindsay Porter via Reuters

What’s more, the Independent reports that sightings of the rare marine mammal have shot up a huge 30% since the pandemic began.

Pink Dolphin numbers could be on the rise

Citing the halt of boat and ferry traffic, experts have seen the pink dolphins appear in places they haven’t in decades. The waters they inhabit have become a “very quiet” environment for them during the pandemic. This also allows researchers to monitor the species with drones and underwater microphones. Such a thing hasn’t been possible in a similar amount of time.

Porter, who’s been studying the marvelous mammals for three decades, is now seeing them in places she hasn’t in nearly ten years. Most importantly to her is the survival of the species. Secondly, however, is the revelation that these dolphins thrive in quiet, tranquil waters. Knowing that stress from boat noise and traffic alone is such a huge deterrent for the survival of this species is a huge breakthrough for her research.

“I sometimes feel that we’re studying the slow demise of this population, which can be really sad,” Porter adds. Regardless, she is hopeful that the research done in HK with the pink dolphins will help other marine mammal researchers around the world.

In a world where two-thirds of animal populations have been threatened with complete extinction – every victory – no matter how small – is worth celebrating for wildlife conservationists. Hopefully the 30% uptick in sightings will correspond with an increase in numbers and awareness.

What is a Pink Dolphin?

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(Photo credit: DANIEL SORABJI/AFP via Getty Images)

Also known as the Chinese white dolphin and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, pink dolphins are a species native to Hong Kong. The species is found north of Lantau island, which is home to HK’s international airport. The dolphins are actually black at birth, and then develop pink pigmentation to their skin as they mature. Their pinkish color, interestingly, comes blood vesselsfrom which were overdeveloped for thermoregulation, according to National Geographic.

The species is endangered and greatly threatened by human activity, fishing, and hunting. Those that have survived inhabit the coastal waters of the western Pacific Ocean and Indian oceans.

These Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins are not to be confused with the Amazon River’s own species of pink dolphin, however. The Amazon river’s species (Inia geoffrensis), is known as the boto, bufeo or simply the pink river dolphin.

[H/T NYPost & SCMP News]

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