Only 37 Chinese white dolphins remain in Hong Kong, according to the latest statistics from Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.
The species is protected in Hong Kong by the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170). Nonetheless, the number of dolphins in Hong Kong has declined as much as 80 percent over the last 15 years, according to conservation groups such as the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society.
The reproductive rate of dolphins is considerably low so the mission for conservationists is to "keep the population healthy," Vincent Ho, the vice-chair of the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society, told the New York Times.
Ocean noise pollution is threatening Chinese white dolphins, affecting the critically endangered creatures’ ability to hunt, navigate and communicate. With a much reduced number of high-speed boats traveling to and from Macau and other mainland cities during the pandemic, the number of dolphins in the area grew in 2019.
Researchers say it is more likely that less boat traffic has brought dolphins back to their habitat and not that the populations are rebounding.