02 December 2008

Sousa still struggling

The unique Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) found in the strait between Taiwan’s western coast and Hong Kong has long been suffering hardship.

The west coast of Taiwan spans a sea of ‘industrial parks’, which have been seen to dump their waste runoff directly into the adjacent coast. Unfortunately, the adjacent coast also houses Sousa sightings. With seafood occupying the majority of the Taiwanese food market, the coastline and the surrounding waters of Taiwan are also filled with a variety of nets including gill nets and large driftnets.

This harsh environment leaves little chance for the declining numbers of these dolphins who are believed to be less than 90 individuals and, thanks to a recent study from Dr. John Wang, are a distinct population from that of Hong Kong.

Local marine biologists, NGOs and international scientists are working hard to help these remarkable mammals to recover but the way seems to be long. Only a few months ago, this dolphin was listed by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as ‘Critically Endangered’, the most serious category of threat before extinction!

We hope that the endangered declaration will increase pressure on the Taiwanese government to protect the dolphins' habitat. But this is not enough, much more must be done quickly to help stabilize and eventually bring the Sousa population back to stronger numbers.

Shiva Javdan

Photo from csiwhalesalive.org

For more information:
IUCN Red List - Sousa chinensis
Taiwan Sousa blogspot

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