The corona measures are a bane for many people, but for the Chinese white dolphin, they are a boon. At the mouth of the Pearl River in eastern China, ferry traffic was suspended in March, allowing the dolphin species to live there undisturbed.
Ferries run regularly between Hong Kong and Macau in the pre-corona era. The cities are located along China’s east coast, about 70 kilometers apart. Still, they are separated from each other by the mouth of the Pearl River. The crowds caused by the sailing routes meant that the Chinese white dolphin was rarely spotted there.
Since the comings and goings of humans have been disrupted by the corona crisis, the endangered dolphin species has resurfaced more often, Reuters reports. The number of Chinese white dolphins has increased by 30 percent.
The cause is the ferry traffic that was canceled in March between Hong Kong and Macau as a result of the global health crisis. The disappearance of busy routes means that the area is “very quiet at the moment”, says marine biologist Lindsay Porter of St Andrews University in Scotland.
Porter has been studying dolphins near Hong Kong for 30 years. Her research suggests that the dolphins have been able to adapt faster than expected now that the animals no longer have to give way to stressors like the ferries.
Their comeback is currently being studied with underwater microphones and drones. The researchers hope, among other things, to find out what influence underwater sounds have on the behavior of the marine mammals.
Scientists suspected that around 2,000 Chinese white dolphins live in the area. However, a 2019 Chinese government investigation indicated the presence of just 52 dolphins in the waters around Hong Kong.