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Chinese White Dolphins

Why did we enter a dolphin into Miss HK? It wasn't for laughs – it was a desperate cry for help on behalf of these beautiful and intelligent creatures.

The Chinese white dolphin is a symbol of Hong Kong's neglect for the environment. Over the years, habitat degradation from coastal development, vessel disturbance from high speed ferries, and water pollution from dredging and dumping activities in western waters have contributed to a significant decline in their numbers.

Once home to hundreds of these majestic creatures, it is estimated now only 61 survive in local waters.

Even though Ruby's pageant entry was unsuccessful, you can still support her mission to designate the surrounding waters of West Lantau and Soko Islands as Marine Parks by signing our e-petition or donating today. Your vote will help make her the people's Miss HK.

Photo © Gary Stokes 2010. All Rights Reserved

  • existing
    protected area

  • Government proposed
    marine park 2002


Currently the Hong Kong government has designated less than 2% of Hong Kong waters as Marine Protected Areas. We need to give Ruby and her kind a bigger and safer home.

A little extra space.
A bigger chance of survival.

WWF is campaigning to expand the size of the government's 2002 marine park proposal, which was inadequate to protect the Chinese white dolphins that inhabit the western waters of Hong Kong. By designating the surrounding waters of West Lantau and Soko Islands as marine parks we can help secure their future before it's too late.


  • existing
    protected area

  • Government proposed
    marine park 2002



LESS dolphins

Recent years have seen Chinese white dolphin numbers dropping faster than ever due to their marine habitat coming under pressure. These are the key reasons for their dramatic decline in numbers.

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Habitat Loss and Degradation from Coastal Development

Hong Kong's hunger for land can never be satisfied.
In the mid-90s, developers and the government looked to our western waters for more land. In little over a decade, more than 1,400 hectares of western waters have been lost to reclamation, destroying the Chinese white dolphin’s habitat.

Marine Vessel Disturbance and Collisions

High-speed ferries between Hong Kong, Macau and other parts of the Pearl River Delta run through the dolphin's habitats 24-hours a day. Scars and marks, possibly caused by propellers, can be seen on the fins and bodies of the dolphins

Water Pollution

Suspended solids stirred into water by marine construction suffocate fish, reduce their growth rates and prevent egg and larval development, meaning less fish for dolphins to eat.
Organochlorines and heavy metals make their way into water from contaminated mud pits. These pollutants accumulate in the dolphin’s bodies and can be especially toxic to young calves when passed to them through their mother's milk.

Underwater Noise Pollution

Dolphins rely on echolocation to navigate and fish. However, marine traffic and underwater construction generate and obscure sounds, interfering with echolocation. In extreme cases these hazards have lead to adverse changes in their behavior and even death..

Prey Depletion

Hong Kong waters are pretty much a free-for-all when it comes to fishing, with almost zero government regulation. No restrictions on quantity or fishing practices have meant that the fishing industry has decimated local fisheries, cutting the food chain short for dolphins.

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Our Work

The Chinese White Dolphin is a great source of joy and pride for the Hong Kong people, becoming our city's mascot in 1997. But how can it remain the symbol of our city if they may be all but gone from our waters in a few years?

The WWF dolphin conservation programme is simple – raise awareness and campaign for the permanent sanctuary the Chinese white dolphin deserves.

Marine Protected Areas

Currently, less than 2% of Hong Kong waterways are designated as Marine Protected Areas. The WWF is advocating an increase to 10% to ensure the dolphins and other marine life have a home free from busy marine traffic, construction and commercial fishing.

Riding the Wave

To make sure dolphins have enough to eat, Chinese white dolphin conservation will be integrated to the broader Riding the Wave programme, which aims to create sustainable fisheries so that our fishing industry can co-exist with the dolphins.

Strategic Environmental Assessment

We are continually pushing the Hong Kong government to more fully evaluate and address the cumulative environmental impacts of any construction project that may encroach on dolphin habitats.


Together with various international conservation groups, we strive to increase scientific knowledge of the Chinese white dolphin in order to build more relevant roadmaps that will ultimately save the species.

Karen Mok

"Ruby and hundreds of species are under threat due to the poor quality of water in Hong Kong and we need to act now to protect them."

Karen Mok

Khalil Fong

"It's our duty and responsibility to lead the fight to save the dolphins and raise awareness of their plight."

Khalil Fong

Karen Mok

"We have to gather signatures to make the government increase Chinese White Dolphin habitats in Hong Kong waters. I hope everyone can help to spread this message."


These dolphins go by a lot of colourful names because they change hue as they age – dark grey in infancy, grey-spotted pink in adolescence and pinkish-white in adulthood. Naturally pale in colour, they look pink because blood capillaries under their skin dilate during exercise.

The first recorded sighting of the Chinese white dolphin in Hong Kong was made by a British adventurer 1637.

They are drawn to Hong Kong’s less salty seaways, the result of fresh water from the Pearl River mixing with seawater, especially northwest of Lantau.

Just like humans, Chinese white dolphins in Hong Kong live in groups of about four, called pods, to socialize, educate and protect their young.

As problem solvers, they have learned to follow fishing boats to make a quick meal of any fish that slip out of the nets.

Fish are at the top of the menu – at least twenty different species – including lion head fish, croakers and anchovies.

Sousa chinensis.

Chinese white dolphin, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, Pink dolphin.

Up to 40 years of age.

Near threatened.