Category Archives: Finless Porpoises

Fourth Dead Cetacean Found in 1 Week

A dead finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides) was found in Discovery Bay on Sunday afternoon, the fourth dead marine mammal discovered in four days after the bodies of three dolphins were discovered on Thursday.
It was found in the water and handed over to the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation for an autopsy. The OPCFHK said that the porpoise was a 1.55 metre long female and the body had reached the fourth stage of decomposition. Its cause of death has yet to be determined.

On Thursday, the bodies of three Chinese white dolphins (Sousa chinensis) were found – one entangled in fishing wire near Lido Beach in Sham Tseng, one in waters near Lamma Island and another in Fan Kwai Tong off Lantau Island.

The Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society (HKDCS) estimate that there has been a decline since 2014, when 61 dolphins were estimated to be in Hong Kong waters.

Dead Finless Porpoise Off Shek O

A locally-rare finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides) was found dead in the waters off Shek O, last week (19th November 2015).

The adult female finless porpoise was discovered on Wednesday at Tai Long Pai, bringing the total number of cetacean strandings this year up to 35. It measured 162 centimetres in length and was already severely decomposed. Dissection revealed a fishing rod in its stomach, but the cause of death is still unknown.

Marine Police received information that the corpse of a finless porpoise had been spotted floating near Shek O. The porpoise was then collected and brought to Marine Police Regional Headquarters at Sai Wan Ho, where Ocean Park Conservation Foundation’s Cetacean Stranding Response Team took on the cadaver for autopsy.

Elsewhere in China the Global Times reports another finless porpoise washed up dead in Poyang Lake in Jiangxi Province. Poyang Lake is a freshwater lake which along with the Dongting Lake is host to an estimated 500 finless porpoises. This stranding brings the total for Poyang Lake for 2015 to 5.

Newborn dolphin dies at Ocean Park; 2 more found dead on Hong Kong beaches

 A newborn dolphin, a small marine cousin of the dolphin, died at Ocean Park last night, where it had been born just 73 hours earlier. Its death came on the same day that two other finless porpoises were revealed to have been found dead on the city’s beaches.

The dead calf’s mother was said to have had a difficult labour, and her baby, a female, immediately displayed an abnormal swimming pattern. The theme park said she also found it difficult to stay alongside her mother when she was not suckling.

Necropsy results show the calf’s stomach was empty, and about 25 per cent of her lungs were not fully expanded. The theme park said it was not uncommon for dolphins to die in infancy, citing a previous study of dolphins in Western Australia, which showed 44 per cent of calves do not survive to three years of age.

Meanwhile, Mui Wo resident Leslie Parker said her son and his friend found the body of what was initially thought to be a seal or sea lion on the rocks near Lower Cheung Sha beach on Wednesday.

Officers from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and Ocean Park’s Cetacean Stranding Response Team visited the site yesterday evening to conduct an autopsy. They removed the carcass for further examination.

A dolphin, which lacks a dorsal fin, may appear similar to a sea lion, said Dr Samuel Hung Ka-yiu, chairman of the Dolphin Conservation Society. However, the porpoise has a smoother skin, with no hair, and it has a tail, while the sea lion has flippers. The species is considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

“The six months between December and May have always been the time of the year when most strandings of dolphins are reported,” said Hung, adding that gillnet fishing was usually the cause of dolphin deaths in Hong Kong waters.

Yesterday morning, police received another report of a dead finless porpoise – this time a 158cm-long adult, which was discovered at a beach off Tai Wan Tau Road, Tseung Kwan O.

The Ocean Park response team were again sent to the scene and took a sample to find out the cause of death. A spokeswoman described it as “severely decomposed”, with signs of having been strangled by a fishing net. There were also bruises on its tail.

There were 32 reports of finless porpoise strandings last year.


Reported by the SCMP ON 2nd April, 2015

Finless Porpoise Dies After Fishing Net Entaglement

A sub-adult male finless porpoise measuring 1.43 m in length was found stranded at South Channel, Tap Mun last Sunday (17th August 2014). Tap Mun (also known as Grass Island) is in the northeast New Territories close to the Hoi Ha Wan marine park. According to marine police it was found entangled in fishing nets. The presence of net entanglement, CT scan images by Ocean Park Conservation Fund and the necropsy indicate that the porpoise as a result of net entanglement and likely drowned. Vets also found multiple abscesses I. Both left and right lungs suggesting chronic pneumonia. The porpoise also had lesions and bruising that suggest struggling in a net.

Finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides) along with the Chinese White dolphins (Sousa chinensis) are the only two cetaceans resident all year round in Hong Kong waters. This is the 34th cetacean stranding in 2014. Entanglement in fishing nets is the top cause of cetacean strandings in Hong Kong.

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Source: Ocean Park Conservation Fund

This Weeks HK Marine Science Summary

– researchers from Guangdong and Hong Kong analysed genetic material from finless porpoises of the Pearl River Estuary and other geographic locations. Based on their results, they argue that the group which finless porpoises belong to originated in tropical waters closer to Southern China rather than in more northern locations. (Kuntong Jia, Wenzhi Lin, Duan Gui, Leszek Karczmarski, Yuping Wu, 2014. Molecular evidence reveals the distinctiveness of Indo-Pacific finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides) in the Pearl River Estuary and insights into genus Neophocaena’s origin. Marine Biology, June 2014)

– researchers at the Swire Institute for Marine Science investigated the mating behaviour of the mangrove snail and found that the males preferentially select larger females and larger males beat smaller males to the big females. (Terence P.T. Ng and Gray A. Williams, 2014. Size-Dependent Male Mate Preference and its Association with Size-Assortative Mating in a Mangrove Snail, Littoraria ardouiniana. Ethology, June 2014)

– researchers from China, Canada and Hong Kong investigated the accumulation of the flame retardant chemical BDE-47 in zebra fish. They found male zebra fish accumulate more of the chemical in their livers than females and that females pass on the chemical to their eggs. (Quan Wen , Hong-ling Liu, Yu-ting Zhu, Xin-mei Zheng, Guan-yong Su, Xiao-wei Zhang, Hong-xia Yu, John P. Giesy , Michael H.W. Lam, 2015. Maternal transfer, distribution, and metabolism of BDE-47 and its related hydroxylated, methoxylated analogs in zebrafish (Danio rerio). Chromosphere, 120: 31-36).

Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society’s 10 year Anniversary Exhibition

To commemorate their 10th anniversary HKDCS HAS organised the “Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society 10th Anniversary Exhibition” with the MAC Gallery. The exhibition will feature more than 100 paintings from children, including the themes “dolphin habits”, “Dolphin House” and “My threats”.
Details in the below poster.

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