Did you know that you could go dolphin spotting in Hong Kong? You can, and you should! After having seen the dusky dolphins in Kaikoura and the hectors dolphins in Haast, New Zealand, we set out to catch a glimpse of the elusive pink dolphins in Hong Kong.
How Many Pink Dolphins Are Left In HK?
I must admit that I was quite skeptical about spotting any pink dolphin in the first place. Their numbers have dwindled and the species has been endangered over the years. Today, there are close to 60 pink dolphins left near Hong Kong. Pollution, high speed boats, and land reclamation have destroyed their habitat 🙁
But, we wanted to believe that we could still spot a few in the wild. So, we booked ourselves on the official tour and hoped for the best.
How To Go Dolphin Watching In Hong Kong?
There are numerous pink dolphin “tours” that operate out of Tai O on Lantau Island. We’d taken one years ago, and it was quite a big disappointment. We paid HK$ 20 for a round trip of the Tai O bay area on a noisy speed boat. We saw absolutely nothing.
The Official Pink Dolphin Tour
However, this time we took the official Hong Kong DolphinWatch tour. The good thing about this tour is that they claim a 97% chance of spotting pink dolphins. If you’re in the unfortunate 3%, they allow you to come back on another day.
The boat starts out from Tung Chung and heads towards Tai O. But fortunately, you can also request for a pick up from Tsim Sha Tsui.
We were told that most of the pink dolphins inhabit the area west of Tai O, between Lantau Island and Macau. From Tun Chung, it took us roughly 30 minutes to get to our dolphin spot. The boat was quite big, with plenty of room for everybody to relax. We were also served some snacks on the boat.
As we approached our spot, I realised how far away we were from Tai O. No wonder we didn’t stand a chance to see any dolphins within the Tai O bay.
Our guide kept a close watch on his sonar device, while we all waited patiently. And then suddenly, he knew where they were and that’s where we headed.
We waited for a few moments and then suddenly, we had the elusive pink dolphins jumping on either side of the boat!
It was really difficult to take pictures of these pink dolphins. Pink dolphins come up to the surface for air every two to eight minutes for 20 to 30 seconds. And, they’re big and bulky (full grown adult male pink dolphins weigh between 150 to 230 kgs as compared to full grown male dusky dolphins that weigh 78 to 85 kgs). They don’t jump as high, but make a huge splash on their way down! So, there’s a very short window to photograph these creatures.
Pink Dolphin Facts
Why Are Pink Dolphins Pink?
The colour of the skin of pink dolphins changes as they age. They are born black but turn grey and develop pink spots as they become “teenagers”. Full grown adults are in fact white in colour. That’s why these dolphins are also often referred to as the Chinese White Dolphins.
Apparently the sediments that are carried by the Pearl River are emptied into the delta region where these pink dolphins reside. The sediment blocks out the rays of the sun causing the pigmentation to occur.
Are Pink Dolphins Real?
Yes, of course they are real 🙂
We were extremely lucky to have spotted 8 individual pink dolphins on our tour! We really didn’t think that we would see so many pink dolphins and that too so frequently.
Video of Pink Dolphins near Tai O, Lantau Island, Hong Kong
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A big thank you to the folks in Hong Kong DolphinWatch for making this possible!