These Beautiful Pink Dolphins Could Disappear Forever
First spotted almost 400 years ago, Hong Kong's majestic pink dolphins might soon be gone forever.
Just one of two pink dolphin species in the world, the Chinese white dolphin once served as a symbol of Hong Kong. But now, a proposed third runway at Chek Lap Kok Airport threatens to drive these remarkable creatures from the city's waters for good.
Like the similarly pink Amazon river dolphin, Hong Kong's dolphins get their unusual coloration thanks to blood vessels brought to the surface by the region's warm tropical waters, which redden their usually white skin.
Since 2003, the number of dolphins around Hong Kong has dropped by more than half, dwindling from 158 animals to around 60 today, The Guardian reports. Overfishing, boat traffic and pollution have all contributed to the decline, says Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society chairman Samuel Hung, but the new runway might be the final blow.
"In some ways it seems like we are pushing them closer and closer to the edge of the cliff and if we're making that final push, they will be gone forever," Hung told The Guardian. "I think now is the time to get our act together."
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Hong Kong's dolphins have lost nearly 5,000 acres of habitat over the past 20 years. The organization says construction of the new runway would heavily impact another 4,000 acres.
"We have been following some of them for nearly 20 years so those are our old friends," said Hung. "They don't realise that there is more disaster waiting for them."
To learn how you can do to help the WWF protect the Chinese white dolphin, click here.