Pink dolphins (unlike unicorns) really do exist, and you can see them fairly easily in Hong Kong.
When you think of visiting this major city in China, you probably don’t immediately think of dolphin watching. In actuality, there are about 300 pink dolphins (known as the Chinese white dolphin or Indo Pacific humpback dolphin) that make their home in the Hong Kong waterways. You can take a dolphin watch tour to see these unique and very brightly colored creatures.
The Indo Pacific humpback dolphin lives in brackish water (where fresh and salt water mix) and can be found in many locations near the city. One of the most popular areas is Lantau Island. Dolphin tour operators will take you to Lantau Island by bus from Hong Kong hotels. From there you board a boat and you are off to see one of the most unusual dolphins in the world.
Why are pink dolphins pink?
No one is quite sure why they are pink. Some believe it is because they live in this brackish water where their main predator, the shark, cannot live. No predators, no need for the grey colored camouflage. Interesting theory. Another thought is that pink dolphins are actually white, but are “blushing” which means the blood is closer to their skin. They do this when they overheat from exerting themselves. This flushing (or blushing) makes them look pink. Kind of like a dolphin hot flash! Wonder if it only occurs in females 🙂
How to get out to see the pink dolphins
The most popular boat tour to see the dolphins is Hong Kong Dolphin Watch Ltd. They have been bringing people to see these bubble gum colored dolphins since 1995. They have guidelines in place to keep the dolphins safe from harm, and are quite familiar with where to find them.
What you need to know about the dolphins
The Chinese white dolphin in Hong Kong faces many threats including pollution, boat traffic, and habitat loss. In recent years, China has designated protected marine mammal areas for this species in particular. In these protected waters, boaters can’t go over a certain speed and fishing activity is regulated.
Another significant concern is a somewhat unregulated dolphin watching industry. Numerous boats will take tourists to see the pink dolphins, but not all of them know how to keep the dolphins safe. Please ask questions of the dolphin tour operators before booking. Not all are respectful of the dolphins.
If you are planning to be in Hong Kong, take the time to visit with these fascinating mammals.
To learn more about conservation efforts in place for these dolphins visit: Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society