Dolphins Return to Hong Kong Waters as Pandemic Reduces Water Traffic
While the coronavirus pandemic has forced humankind to stay indoors, wildlife is flourishing in the absence of human intrusion. For the past few months, cities have seen rare wildlife species roaming around on the streets. Wildlife bloomed in Venice canals given the lack of boats in the waters, and now dolphins return to Hong Kong waters amid pandemic.
Recently, a large number of dolphins have been spotted in Hong Kong waters amid the coronavirus lockdown, as high-speed ferries stand on the shores; and researchers are calling for protection before the ferries recommence the business.
Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, also known as Chinese white dolphins and pink dolphins, are native to the Pearl River estuary, but usually, they sidestepped the waters between Hong Kong and Macau due to the density of the high-speed boats in the area.
But as the water traffic has been drastically reduced with the pandemic, and ferries have been suspended for the time being, dolphin numbers in the area have increased by 30 percent since March.
Dr. Lindsay Porter, a senior research scientist with the University of St. Andrews, was conducting regular surveys shortly after Hong Kong and Macau closed their borders when she noticed the increased number of the dolphins in the water currents.
It was the last week in February, literally the week after the ferries stopped travelling between Hong Kong and Macau. I’ve been studying these dolphins since 1993 and I’ve never seen anything like this dramatic change before, and the only thing that changed is 200 ferries stopped travelling before.
She and her team borrowed a yacht from the locals in Hong Kong to conduct a study of the dolphin populations while staying on waters without any disruptions. Scientists took advantage of the lockdown to drop microphones from the boat and use drones to examine the dolphins. Their research suggests that the animals adapted rapidly to a quieter environment and now the population could start to bounce back. The visual observations show that dolphins are being playful, socializing, and focusing on reproduction.
The team dropped underwater recording stations in the ferry lanes, aiming to compare the vocalizations from the high-traffic pre-pandemic and now. The team had collaborated with WWF Hong Kong, which had cost detouring the ferries away from the area once transport resumes at an extra charge per passenger.
According to WWF Hong Kong, there were about 2,500 dolphins in the estuary. Porter said it was factually hard to record populations precisely because the habitat crossed into mainland Chinese territory, but in Hong Kong and adjacent waters, the species was in decline.
Hopefully, the wildlife will keep flourishing even after the pandemic is over and the world returns to its normal lifestyle.
Via: The Guardian