Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Review- Pink Dolphin Watching

One of the things I have been wanting to do in Hong Kong for a while but have been waiting to do with someone special was go pink dolphin watching. My mother's visit seemed like the perfect time to partake in this unique Hong Kong experience. The Hong Kong Dolphin Watch is a non-profit organization that gives people a unique view of this endangered animal and supports the pro dolphin legislation in Hong Kong.

Beautiful pinkies on our tour!

Chinese Pearl River Delta Dolphins or Pink Dolphins are actually white. They turn pink from excersize due to over sized blood vessels that are close to their skins surface. It is very similar to our blushing after a long run. The pink also has become deeper in color the more exposed they are to pollution which can make their skin more irritated. Unlike most dolphins pink dolphins don't live in large pods. They will stay together mommy and babies for a while and then the babies will go off on their own. They tend to stay in similar areas as their family. (Like when you go away to college only two hours away from home, so you can still do your laundry and come home on weekends.)

To go dolphin watching you first need to make a reservation with the Hong Kong Dolphin Watch. They only operate on Wednesday, Friday and Sundays. (They also will do charter trips and sometimes do special runs on public holidays, just ask for more info.) You will meet the bus at the Kowloon Hotel behind the Peninsula Hotel in TST. From there, you will take a bus to the Tung Chung Ferry Pier and get on a boat. The boat ride is about two- three hours long in total. If you get sea sick, it gets a bit bumpy sometimes. They have drinks, cookies on board for the kiddies and for me! My mom and I snuggled up into a big comfy seat and cuddled as we headed out (it was a bit misty and chilly that morning) then we moved up to the front of the boat when we got closer to the dolphin area.
Mommy ready to see some dolphins!
The dolphins mainly hang out in this marine life preserve off of Tai Wo. Tai Wo is a popular fishing spot in between Lantau Island and the airport. Due to the large amounts of fishies in this area, the dolphins live here because of the food. Their old hangout was the current location of the HK airport. It was their breeding ground and it was destroyed when the built the airport. The exact number of how many dolphins have died or been misplaced due to the construction are not exact, but some research suggests that the local population was cut in half by the construction of the airport. I'm used to living in America where if an endangered species lives on a piece of land the government cannot use it to protect the animal. (Thanks Teddy Roosevelt!) But, in most other countries including HK such laws do not exist to protect the animals homes and often times the animals needs are sacrificed for the sake of progress.

Also recently, there has been discussions of creating a third runway for the HK International Airport. As much as we need another runway we also need to consider the effects of the construction of the HK environment. Dolphins have very sensitive ears and sonar systems so they are greatly affected by the noise of construction in their habitats.
Mommy dolphin! Her baby was missed in the shot!
My mom and I loved seeing the dolphins, I personally have never seen anything that was that color pink before. It looked like bubblegum pink and some of the dolphins had polka dots. Polka dots are my favorite pattern so I felt some of the dolphins were made special for my viewing. We did however have an awkward dolphin encounter. 3 dolphins were "playing" by our boat and causing quite a stir. This is when I informed my mother of a fact I learned about dolphins in college.
Dolphins are the only other creature than humans to have sex for pleasure. They are also are known to have orgies and gang rapes due to this part of their nature. My mother was as equally disturbed by this fact as I was. So, we see the dolphins rolling around and I assume "RAPE!!" Turns out, I was so right! The tour guide at the end of the trip informed us we were viewing a mating ritual and I yelled "TOLD YOU!" to my mom. She was not amused...
Catching some rays on the way to Tai Wo!
My only complaint with the dolphin watching experience was the tour guide. He was a very nice man and seemed to have a great bit of knowledge about the dolphins and the habitat, unfortunately he was a TERRIBLE public speaker. He was showing and telling about dying dolphins while we were on the bus and let's just say the kids on the trip were traumatized. He also was boring, paused and stammered a lot and was generally uninteresting. I feel that tour guides must be personable, fun and great public speakers. This person was NOT, I realize he was a volunteer but trust me he ruined the experience for a lot of the people on the tour. Also, he would jump in front of the people on the boat to get a good picture with his GIANT camera. He blocked shots of people who were paying for the experience of seeing the dolphins. He can take photos anytime he shouldn't block shots of people with their kids and a dolphin because he wants to get the shot for the company facebook page. We were paying for the experience and he didn't seem to care about our experience only his own! During the photo taking session he could have used this time to relay more facts, point out dolphins to little kids and talk with people, but he seemed very selfish. He could have at least stood in the back seeing as he was over six foot tall.
Terrible tour guide blocking my shot!

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