|Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin|
|Combined ranges of Sousa chinensis and Sousa sahulensis|
The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis; Chinese: ; pinyin: ) is a species of humpback dolphin inhabiting coastal waters of the eastern Indian and western Pacific Oceans. This species is often referred to Chinese white dolphins in China (including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan) and Singapore as common name. Some biologists regard the Indo-Pacific dolphin as a subspecies of the Indian Ocean humpback dolphin which ranges from east Africa to India. However, DNA testing studies have shown that the two are distinct species. Additionally, a new species (Australian humpback dolphin, S. sahulensis) has just recently been split off from S. chinensis and recognized as a distinct species. Nevertheless, there are still several unresolved issues in differentiation of Indian-type and Indo-pacific-type humpback dolphins. In fact, the taxonomic affinities of humpback dolphins in the entire Bay of Bengal (i.e., eastern India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Myanmar) need to be urgently re-examined. There is also still some uncertainty regarding the exact taxonomic status of populations observed in Mainland Malaysia and Borneo. In particular, a unique subspecies (S. c. taiwanensis) may exist in Taiwan (IUCN Red List version 3.1).
An adult Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin is gray, white or pink and may appear as an albino dolphin to some. Uniquely, the population along the Chinese coast has pink skin, and the pink colour originates not from a pigment, but from blood vessels which were overdeveloped for thermoregulation. The body length is 2 to 3.5 m (6 ft 7 in to 11 ft 6 in) for adults 1 m (3 ft 3 in) for infants. An adult weighs 150 to 230 kg (330 to 510 lb). Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins live up to 40 years, as determined by the analysis of their teeth.
At birth, the dolphins are black. They change to grey, then pinkish with spots when young. Adults are gray, white or pink.
Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins come to the water surface to breathe for 20 to 30 seconds before diving deep again, for two to eight minutes. Dolphin calves, with smaller lung capacities, surface twice as often as adults, staying underwater for one to three minutes. Adult dolphins rarely stay under water for more than four minutes. They sometimes leap completely out of the water. They may also rise up vertically from the water, exposing the dorsal half of their bodies. A pair of protruding eyes allows them to see clearly in both air and water.
Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins are sociable creatures and live in groups of three to four. Female dolphins become mature at 10 years old, while the males become mature at 13 years old. They usually mate from the end of summer to autumn. Infant dolphins are usually born 11 months after the mating. Mature females can give birth every three years, and parental care lasts until their offspring can find food themselves.
The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin is threatened by both habitat loss and pollution. Conservationists warn that Hong Kong may lose its rare Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, also known as pink dolphins for their unique colour, unless China takes urgent action against pollution and other threats. Their numbers in Hong Kong waters have fallen from an estimated 158 in 2003 to just 78 in 2011, with a further decline expected by the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society. A tour guide from Hong Kong Dolphinwatch spotted a group of pink dolphins helping a mother support the body of her dead calf above the water in an attempt to revive it. The scene, captured on video and widely shared on Facebook, has raised fresh concerns about the dwindling population in a city where dolphin watching is a tourist attraction. "We're 99 percent certain the calf died from toxins in the mother's milk, accumulated from polluted seawater," said Hong Kong Dolphinwatch spokeswoman Janet Walker, who added it was the third such incident reported in April alone. Fewer than 2,500 of the mammals survive in the Pearl River Delta, the body of water between Macau and Hong Kong, with the majority found in Chinese waters and the rest in Hong Kong.
The subject of plastic pollution is a global phenomenon that has no-end in sight. Plastic pollution is widespread across all entangling oceans due to their buoyant and durable properties that allow for sorption of toxicants to plastic while traveling through the environment.  This lead researchers to the conclusion that synthetic polymers are hazardous to marine life and should be declared as a hazardous waste type. There are many transit paths that allow for plastics and pollutions to enter oceans. Freshwater waste can enter oceans by rivers; delta or estuary (where rivers meet the ocean). Human populations discarding their waste directly into marine waters. Through photo-degradation and other forms of weathering processes that aid in plastics fragmentation and dispersal. Mass quantities of fragmented plastics - along with pollution are aggregated in subtropical gyres; ocean gyres.  Plastic accumulation is not limited to ocean gyres; closed bays, gulfs and seas surrounded by densely populated coastlines and watersheds are all susceptible.
"The Pearl River Delta is an estuary within the proximity of one of the many ocean gyres that the Humpback dolphin inhabits. A tour guide from Hong Kong Dolphinwatch spotted a group of pink dolphins helping a mother support the body of her dead calf above the water in an attempt to revive it. The scene, captured on video and widely shared on Facebook, has raised fresh concerns about the dwindling population in a city where dolphin watching is a tourist attraction. "We're 99 percent certain the calf died from toxins in the mother's milk, accumulated from polluted seawater," said Hong Kong Dolphinwatch spokeswoman Janet Walker, who added it was the third such incident reported in April alone. Fewer than 2,500 of the mammals survive in the Pearl River Delta, the body of water between Macau and Hong Kong, with the majority found in Chinese waters and the rest in Hong Kong."  (Refer to: Humans and the environment subsection above)
Plastic pollution can severely affect all forms of marine life; Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins are specifically affected in an array of means.
Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) are chronically exposed to organic pollutants since they inhabit shallow coastal waters that are often impacted by anthropogenic activities. Anthropogenic pollutants pose a risk to marine mammals that reside in coastal waters. Discharge of organic pollutants into marine environments has been shown to decrease water quality resulting in loss of habitats and a significant reduction in the species richness (Johnston and Roberts, 2009). The loss of key pods have caused specie fragmentation, also due to habitat loss, which inclines specie isolation; decrease connectivity resulting in population decline. This loss in population is what lead this species to be labeled as near threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The consumption of plastics have adverse effects in marine mammals such as disease susceptibility, reproductive and developmental toxicity. Constant absorption of organic pollutants like plastic can be transferred into the dolphin's tissues and organs through an ingestion pathway that is impacting megafauna, lower trophic levels and predators (not limited to Indo-Pacific) Organ toxicity can lead to organ failure, loss of offsprings and milk toxicity. If the dolphin is not consuming plastic directly then it can have plastic pollutants ingested though biomagnification and bioaccumulation. Bioaccumulation is defined as the uptake of chemicals from the environment through dietary intake, dermal absorption or respiratory transport in air or water. This is a huge factor is plastic toxicity consumption in this species due to them having long lifespans which makes them susceptible to chronic exposure. Also, they contain a large quantity of blubber, lipids, which can result in an excess of toxicity storage in their tissues.
Echolocation is a main sense that all dolphins use to navigate and pinpoint prey and predators. Dolphins and whales use echolocation by bouncing high-pitched clicking sounds off underwater objects, similar to shouting and listening for echoes. The sounds are made by squeezing air through nasal passages near the blowhole. These sound-waves then pass into the forehead, where a big blob of fat called the melon focuses them into a beam. This process can be interrupted by large composites of waste that can range from oil, plastics and noise. The large blockage can refract sound-waves that give the dolphin a false inclination that there is possible prey, kin or a predator in the area. This can become confusing and frustrating which can lead to extreme stress and potential health issues. Despite echolocation being mostly affected by noise pollution it can altered by pollutants in marine water.
Noise pollution can also be caused by large clusters of plastic debris; ocean gyre. The constant movement of ocean currents will cause the plastic debris, along with general-waste to clash together which entails a production of sound. Sound waves from the debris will travel through marine waters which can become an excess of sound waves traveling can render their use of echolocation. This can inherently leave this species blind since this is their primary sense.
In Hong Kong, boat trips to visit the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins have been running since the 1990s. The dolphins mainly live in the waters of Lantau North, Southeast Lantau, the Soko Islands and Peng Chau. A code of conduct regulates dolphin-watching activity in Hong Kong waters.
There have been some reports of dolphin watching practices that have further endangered the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, such as in Sanniang Bay dolphin sanctuary in Qinzhou and off Xiamen. However, these generally are small, locally organised one-off tours or private pleasure boats that do not adhere to the Hong Kong Agricultural and Fisheries Department's voluntary code of conduct.
Nánp?ng Islands Marine Sanctuary in Nan'ao County is also home to local pods. The population in Leizhou Bay, Leizhou Peninsula, comprising nearly 1,000 animals and the second largest population in the nation, may also be targeted for future tourism.Hepu National Sanctuary of Dugongs, and waters around Sanya Bay and other coasts adjacent on Hainan Island are home to some dolphins. As the environment and local ecosystems recovery, dolphins' presences in nearby waters have been increasing such as vicinity to the nature sanctuary of Weizhou and Xieyang Islands.Gulf of Tonkin waters in Vietnam may have unstudied populations that may appear elsewhere such as along Xuân Th?y National Park and Hòn Dáu Island in H?i Phòng.
The Cantonese language has a slang expression wu gei bak gei (often written as ?, "black taboo white taboo") which means someone or something is a bad omen or a nuisance. The phrase originates from the Cantonese fisher people, because they claim the dolphins eat the fish in their nets. However, in formal Chinese, it should be written as ?, with the gei originally in olden Chinese, meaning dolphins. The wu refers to the finless porpoises, which are black, and the bak, white, referring to Chinese river dolphins. These two species often interrupt and ruin the fishermen's catch. As years passed, because "dolphin" sounds the same as "bad luck", the meaning of the phrase changed. However, in Cantonese, wu refers to the calves of Chinese white dolphin and bak refers to the adults. Nowadays, dolphins are not called gei anymore, but (hai tun), literally meaning "sea pig", with none of the negative connotations for pig found in English.
The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins were first discovered along the west coast of Taiwan in 2002. Based on a survey done in 2002 and 2003, they are often found in waters <5m deep, and no evidence shows that they appear in water deeper than 15m. A study in 2008 found that the population of humpback dolphins, which occupies a linear range of about 500 km^2 along the central west coast of Taiwan, is genetically distinct from all populations living in other areas. And this population is called Eastern Taiwan Strait (ETS) population.
Taiwan is a densely populated island and highly developed area, which has many industrial development projects, especially along the west coast, where the ETS populations of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins live. Based on data collected between 2002 and 2005, the ETS population of humpback dolphins was less than 100 individuals. Unfortunately, the newest data released in 2012 shows that only 62 individuals are left. It means during those 7 years, population of humpback dolphins is being destroyed constantly and severely. A preliminary examination revealed that the ETS humpback dolphin population meets the IUCN Red List criteria for "Critically Endangered". Without further protection and regulation, this population will go extinct quickly.
There are several facts that result in the decreasing number of ETS population of humpback dolphins. First, large-scale modification of the shoreline by industrial development including hydraulic filling for creating industrial or science parks, seawall construction and sand mining cause habitat fragmentation and diminish dolphin's habitats. In addition, exploitation of shoreline also contributes to toxic contamination flows into dolphin's habitats. The chemical pollution from industrial or agricultural and municipal discharge results in impaired health of dolphins, for instance, reproductive disorders, and compromised immune system.
Second, fishing activities along the west coast of Taiwan are thriving, and cause many impacts on dolphins. Widespread and intensive use of gillnets and vessel strikes are potential threats for dolphins. Over exploitation of fish by fisheries' is another threat for the dolphin population. It has led to disturbance of marine food web or trophic level and reduces marine biodiversity. Therefore, dolphins have not enough prey to live on.
Still another problem is reduced amount of freshwater flows into estuaries from rivers. Since ETS population of humpback dolphins is closely associated with estuaries habitat, the elimination of freshwater discharge from rivers significantly decreases the amount of suitable habitats for dolphins.
Hydroacoustic disturbance is another critical issue for dolphins. Sources of noise can come from dredging, pile driving, increased vessel traffic, seawall construction, and soil improvement. For all cetaceans, sound is vital for providing information about their environment, communicating with other individuals, and foraging; also, they are very vulnerable and sensitive to the effects of noise. Elevated anthropogenic sound level causes many dysfunctions of their behaviors, and even leads to death.
In addition to threats from anthropogenic activities, dolphins are potentially at the risk due to the small population size, which may result in inbreeding and decreased genetic and demographic variability. Finally, climate change causes more typhoons to hit the west coast of Taiwan and cause great disturbance to dolphins' habitats.
The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). It is listed on Appendix II as it has an unfavourable conservation status or would benefit significantly from international co-operation organised by tailored agreements. In the interim of 2003-2013, the number of these dolphins in the bay around Hong Kong has dwindled from a population of 159 to just 61 individuals, a population decline of 60% in the last decade. The population continues to be further threatened by pollution, vessel collision, overfishing, and underwater noise pollution.
In addition to their natural susceptibility to anthropogenic disturbances, the Chinese white dolphin's late sexual maturity, reduced fecundity, reduced calf survival, and long calving intervals heavily curtails their ability to naturally cope with elevated rates of mortality.
China has launched the largest Indo-Pacific Humpbacked Dolphin sanctuary on Taiwanese coasts. The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin is also covered by the Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and Their Habitats in the Pacific Islands Region (Pacific Cetaceans MoU).
The examples and perspective in this Hong Kong may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (November 2011) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)