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China hails sighting of extremely rare white dolphin pod as sign of improving water quality

·2-min read
A still from the video shows white dolphins in coastal waters off south China  (Xinhua News Agency)
A still from the video shows white dolphins in coastal waters off south China (Xinhua News Agency)

China has hailed the sighting of a pod of rare white dolphins off Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region in south China as a sign that water pollution has decreased in the area.

The Chinese white dolphins, famously known for their pink hue, were captured in a rare glimpse in the Beuib gulf coastal waters, according to state media Xinhua news agency.

After being declared functionally extinct more than a decade ago, their numbers have significantly increased: from less than 100 in 2004 to more than 300 in 2021. State media attributed this to the improving water quality in the region.

The endangered white dolphins are listed under first-class state protection in China and Red List of Threatened Species in 2008, which means that they are threatend with extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

In another coincidental sighting in recent days, a pod of dolphins were spotted in Xiamen bay in the coastal waters off east China’s Fujian Province, taking conversationists by surprise.

“Look! The white one is Dabai [Chinese name for white dolphin], and the gray one is her baby. She is playing with her baby,” said Wang Xianyan, a researcher at the Xiamen-based Third Institute of Oceanography, according to Xinhua.

Mr Wang said he shot the video in April in Xiamen bay, where there are 60 to 70 white dolphins.

According to conservationists, shipping and catastrophic levels of industrial pollution played a major role in reducing their number.

Chinese white dolphins saw an alarming decline in the last decade when the number reduced from 158 dolphins in 2003 to just 61 dolphins in 2012.

But measures to counter it like fishing bans, restrictions on human interferance in their natural habitat to reduce pollution and other ecological measures have helped increase their population over a period of time.

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