Wildlife experts in south China are trying to rescue an endangered Chinese white dolphin (Sousa chinensis) that is in worsening health after swimming into a tributary of the Pearl river a week ago. The dolphin is approximately 30 years old and swam into the Baisha Rivernear Jiangmen in Guangdong Province on the 1st of February. It is now in a stretch of water about 100 km from the sea. “[…] the skin of the dolphin is festering and its health is deteriorating … its moving area is shrinking,” said Feng Kangkang, a worker with Jiangmen Chinese White Dolphin Nature Reserve, on Thursday. The team is watching the dolphin around-the-clock and recording its health condition, according to the Guangdong provincial ocean and fishery department. Dubbed the “giant pandas of the sea” by some, the Chinese white dolphins are mainly scattered in a few coastal areas where they exist in small numbers. About 2,000 are known from areas around the Pearl River, including HK which at the last count, was down to about 60 dolphins. (Photo/Xinhua)
As reported by several news outlets this week, a Chinese White Dolphin (Sousa chinensis) – aluas Indopacific Humpback Dolphin or ‘pink dolphin’ – was spotted near Guangzhou in the Pearl River on Wednesday the 21st of October. This drew some crowds as the dolphin stayed for about an hour. Conservation staff later used sonar equipment to try to herd it back out towards the sea -apparently with some success.
This story is however quite hyped-up, because these dolphins live near estuaries and previous studies have shown they move further into the estuary in the dry winter months when less freshwater is flushed into the sea by the Pearl River. In summer when the heavy rains come and the river swells the dolphins range extends further out. This is likely because they are following fish stocks that themselves track a line of salinity which mobmves in and out of the estuary with the seasons. Some fish like the flathead mullet (Mugil cephalus) commonly sold in fish markets also move in and out of fresh and seawater depending on their stage in life.
Speaking of which, I saw another prize catch of a mullet on the central waterfront yesterday. It’s a bigger fish than I have seen in any market at about 40 cm and probably 2+ kg – it drew a small crowd and plenty of mobile phone cameras. congratulations to the lucky angler!
Apple Daily and the Standard reported a ‘tornado’ as Shenzhen was battered by thunderstorms and rain yesterday (11th May 2015). As the tornado was over the Pearl River Estuary and not actually on land it wasn’t a tornado, but a waterspout.
A man has spared no expense on a ¥3million (£285,500) fish for his father-in-law.
The 50kg Chinese Bahaba (Bahaba taipingensis, Giant Croaker or黃唇魚 or 黄唇鱼) is 1.6m long and was caught as part of a local Dragon Boat Festival tradition in Fujian Province.
‘We’ve never seen such a big Bahaba in many years,’ said locals.
The fish is found on the coast of China, from the Yangtze River estuary southwards to the Pearl River estuary, including the waters of Hong Kong and Macau. It is a marine species that reaches lengths up to 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) and weights in excess of 100 kilograms (220 lb). Its natural habitats are shallow seas, subtidal aquatic beds, rocky shores, and estuarine waters. It enters estuaries to spawn and may be present there seasonally in large numbers. These include the Yangtze River, the Min River and the Pearl River and around the coast of Zhoushan Island (off the coast of Ningbo). It feeds mostly on shrimps and crabs.
It spawns in April and after spawning, the adults move out to deeper waters. Juveniles may be found in estuarine and coastal areas.
It is threatened by massive over fishing that continues despite legal protection in mainland China. Annual catches of fifty tonnes were taken in the 1930s but this had dwindled to 10 tonnes per year by the 1950s and 1960s by which time few large fish were caught. Despite legal protection in the mainland China, it is has no legal protection in Hong Kong, but it has been listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is still caught and landed in mainland China, because of the immense monetary value placed on the swim bladders of this fish for use in traditional Chinese medicine. The swimbladders (maw) price depends on its age and shape, sex and size of fish, and even on the place and season of capture. In some markets, notably the Chinese markets, a good specimen swim bladder fetches more than its weight in gold.
Help urge more protection for this species by signing this petition online: “It is high time to protect the Chinese Bahaba”
Spawning populations are no longer known (fishing was targeted on spawning aggregations in estuaries in the past) and, given the heavy fishing pressure in the region, there are likely to be few or no refuges remaining for recovery. In addition, the estuaries in which this species spawns are degraded which may also have affected populations. It is not clear whether spawning aggregations of the species still occur, although some evidence suggests they might close to Xiqiyang, Dongguan, Pearl River. Dongguan by the way is one of Southern China’s biggest manufacturing cities. Bahabas are vulnerable because of their biological characteristics of large size, restricted geographic range and aggregating behaviour in and around estuaries. When aggregating in estuaries they often produce sounds that makes individuals particularly easy to find.
By the 1990s, only small fish (<30 kg) were taken in Hong Kong waters sporadically, and large individuals (>50 kg) had become rare. Greatest catches were taken in the weeks prior to full and new moons with up to 300 fish taken in a season in Hong Kong in the past; now only the occasional small fish is taken. The last large Bahaba seen in Hong Kong was caught in 2008…
Source of the Father’s Day news item : Metro, 9/6/2014
Hong Kong Federation of Women webpage detailing how expectant and new mothers can obtain fictitious health benefits by contributing directly to the extinction of the Chinese Bahaba
(FYI only, please don’t buy any Bahaba or Bahaba products!)
Last weekend Simon Holliday, 35, set a record for the crossing of the Pearl River Delta in a time of 10 hours, 20 minutes, and 30 seconds, beating the time of Beijing swimmer Zhang Jian who swam across in 10 hours 30 minutes in 2005.
‘There were tough moments – lots of big tankers in the start, and lots of time to contemplate what I was doing, but the jellyfish didn’t appear, and instead, the dolphins did, for over an hour!’ Holliday was accompanied by a pod of pink dolphins, obviously keen to support another ‘pink’ thing swimming in the murky waters of the Pearl River Delta. Pink dolphins are a massively endangered species, mostly on account of habitat degradation and destruction. ‘It was one of the most amazing moments of my life to see them around us for so long, even though I had to keep my head down and kept going.’
Doug Woodring of the Ocean Recovery Alliance said: ‘I’ve never seen so many dolphins – at one point there was around 30 of them. Today was not just a great day for the ocean, but a great day for Hong Kong open-water swimming.’
Holliday began his swim at 5am from Peaked Hill (Kai Yet Kok), on the west edge of Lantau Island, Hong Kong and swam approximately 35km to Hac Sa Beach in Macau, arriving at [3:40pm]. The swim has raised over $250,000 HKD for Ocean Recovery Alliance and their project Grate Art, which brings together eight local and Chinese artists to create plaques used to remind people not to dump into drains on the street, as these sometimes flow into the ocean.
Asked the first thing he was going to do after emerging from the water, Holliday remarked: ‘I am going to have a pint of beer, in a glass.’
Simon Holliday is an open-water swimmer based in Hong Kong. Simon swam across the English Channel in August 2011 and has done several long swims around the UK and Ireland.
Ocean Recovery Alliance brings together new ways of thinking, technologies, creativity and collaborations in order to introduce innovative projects and initiatives that help to improve our ocean environment. It has two projects with the Clinton Global Initiative focused on the reduction of plastic pollution, and is one of the only NGOs in the world to be working with both the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Oceans. It also organises Kids Ocean Day in Hong Kong, Hong Kong-San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival (May 6-11, 2014), and the international business forum, Plasticity, on the future of plastic, where is can be used, without the ‘footprint.’
Source: Ocean Recovery Alliance