Pink Dolphin

Odd-colored CETACEAN of the western Pacific Ocean.

Variant name: Chinese white dolphin. Physical description: Juveniles are born black, then turn light gray as they get older. Adults are whitish pink, with gray spots or patches. The dorsal fin is slightly larger in this variety, though it lacks the pronounced hump of the African populations.

Distribution: Zhu Jiang River estuary between Hong Kong and Macau, China.

Present status: Known as long ago as A.D. 618-907 in Tang Dynasty poetry. About 100-200 Pink dolphins are found in Hong Kong waters; as many as 1,000 are estimated to live in the entire estuary.

Probable explanation: Definitely a local color variation of the Indo-Pacific hump-backed dolphin (Sousa chinensis), found in coastal waters from South Africa to eastern Australia. The reason for its light coloration is unknown.

Sources: Thomas A. Jefferson, Population Biology of the Indo-Pacific Hump-Backed Dolphin (Sousa chinensis Osbeck, 1765) in Hong Kong Waters: Final Report (Hong Kong: Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, 1998); "Studies on Chinese White Dolphins," Factsheet no. 51, World Wide Fund for Nature-Hong Kong, http://www.wwf.org.hk/ eng/pdf/references/factsheets/factsheet51.PDF.

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