White dolphins protected off coast of Xiamen

Establishment of underwater 'sound wall' among measures guarding 'panda of the sea'

By LI MENGHAN and HU MEIDONG in Xiamen, Fujian | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-11 12:11
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Editor's note: As protection of the planet's flora, fauna and resources becomes increasingly important, China Daily is publishing a series of stories to illustrate the country's commitment to safeguarding the natural world.

A sculpture depicting the harmony between humans and Chinese white dolphins overlooks Huoshaoyu Island of Xiamen, Fujian province, in January. LIN SHANCHUAN/XINHUA

In late January, a pod of Chinese white dolphins was seen jumping, swimming and generally frolicking near Huoshaoyu Island off the coast of Xiamen in Southeast China's Fujian province.

"In the cold months from December through February, dolphins are likely to seek inner bays and harbors with calm winds and waves to spend the winter," said Xu Jing, an official with the Xiamen Chinese White Dolphin Nature Reserve. She added that it has become more common to spot dolphins in the relatively calm western waters in recent years.

The Chinese white dolphin, or Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, inhabits shallow coastal waters from Southeast China to East India, and garnered "Chinese" in its name after being observed in China in the 1600s. The cetacean, which is under first-class State protection in China, is regarded as an indicative species for marine ecological health, due to its sensitivity to water quality.

Owing to years of dedicated conservation efforts and support from local communities, Xiamen, one of just a handful of coastal Chinese cities where Chinese white dolphins can be observed from an urban setting, has witnessed a resurgence in the population.

"The Chinese white dolphin is a species at the top of the food chain. The continued sightings of the dolphins in the city's waters imply that our marine ecosystem and the entire food chain are well-preserved and supportive of their survival," said Xin Jianjun, former head of the Xiamen Fisheries Administration.

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