We met at a hotel in Kowloon and shuffled aboard a bus for the 45-minute journey to Lantau Island, near the airport. Along the way, our guide gave us some info on the dolphins. They go by many names: sousa chinensis, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, Chinese white dolphin, 中華白海豚. But most of us just call them pink dolphins. Their color comes from their blood vessels, rather than actual pigmentation.
Sadly, their numbers have been dwindling due to human activity. The general consensus was that with the new Hong Kong-Macau bridge, along with a new runway being built at Hong Kong’s airport, the dolphins would be completely driven out of the area. But covid has been a blessing for them – they’re thriving now that humans are interfering less in their habitat. Of course, this situation will likely be short-lived when the pandemic comes to an end.
From the airport, we boarded our dolphin-viewing boat, which was running at far less than capacity. We were driven around the north side of Lantau, and underneath the new bridge. The driver cut the engine, and right away we could see the dolphins jumping in the distance. Eventually they came closer and closer to us. One even swam under our boat!
Everyone was in awe. Given the dolphins’ dire prognosis, we were expecting to see just one or two dolphins, far in the distance. But around a dozen of them delighted us for an hour before it was time to head back. It was a magical experience for us, immediately lightening our moods. If you ever get a chance to come to Hong Kong, I would definitely recommend booking a trip to see these majestic creatures.
Here are a few of my photos from the trip:
The old Novotel, the last hotel on Lantau with vacancies over the holiday.
There were a few fishermen in the area.
We actually saw one plane landing! It’s still quite eerie – a year ago there would’ve been a new plane coming in every few minutes.
The new cross-harbor bridge takes you out to sea, and when you reach this point you head into a tunnel under the ocean. I think it was built this way so the huge ships could still get through.
A few fishermen were standing at the base of each pillar on the new bridge. But how did they get there?
Just past the bridge we spotted our first dolphin!
The dolphins were often followed by their offspring.
They would only come up for air for about one second, so they were quite difficult to photograph.
There were a lot of cargo ships on the horizon.
Many of the dolphins were pink.
Others were gray, with some pink spots.
This one swam right under our boat.
Coming up for air.
After an hour of watching these magnificent creatures, it was time to say goodbye. It had been a truly unforgettable experience.
For more info, here is a depressing BBC article about the dire state that the dolphins are in.
And here is a more uplifting South China Morning Post article about the dolphins’ comeback during the pandemic.