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Despite being a lover of all things nature, I’m extremely skeptical when it comes to animal encounters. I enjoy seeing animals, as most people do, and the popularity of certain animals makes them easy targets for exploitation. However, it didn’t take long to find a way that I could experience Hong Kong’s pink dolphins without causing harm to them in the process.

When I was planning my first trip to Hong Kong 4 years ago, seeing the pink dolphins was one of my top priorities. After doing a little research, I determined that Hong Kong Dolphinwatch was a great company that would provide an excellent dolphin-watching experience.

On top of the 97% success rate in dolphin sightings, HK Dolphinwatch also has a Go-Again Guarantee, meaning that if no dolphins are seen, you can join a future tour for no additional cost. Also, while the company isn’t a nonprofit, they do donate more than 10% of their profit to organizations such as WWF.

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The meeting point of the tour was at a hotel in Kowloon, where all of the day’s dolphin-watchers were loaded onto a bus and driven to the boat. Along the way, our tour guide taught us all about the pink dolphins (also sometimes called Chinese white dolphins).

She shared some of the theories about why these dolphins have their pinkish color, and she also told us that they don’t gain their color until later in life. They are born gray and start to get pink spots later in their life before turning entirely pink.

The dolphins are facing increasing threats, including pollution, overdevelopment and water traffic infringing on their habitat, as well as a lack of food due to overfishing.

In terms of responsible interactions with the wildlife, HK Dolphinwatch adheres to practices that minimize disruptions to dolphins. They never try to lure dolphins to the boat with food (that teaches the dolphins to go to boats, and many dolphins have suffered death or injuries because they have gotten too close to boats in search of food). Additionally, they don’t chase the dolphins. Instead, they drive slowly to spots where dolphin sightings are frequent, and they stay that spot for a while, waiting for the dolphins to appear nearby.

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With our brains full of information about these amazing creatures, we all climbed onto the boat and were invited to help ourselves to the coffee and snacks on board. I thought the pink cups were a nice touch!

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It was a nice ride to the first spot where we parked and waited eagerly for the first appearance of a pink dolphin.

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We had learned about some of the dolphin behaviors during the bus ride earlier, including spyhopping. This is when the dolphins pop only their heads out of the water to see what’s going on above the surface.

Finally after some shy spyhoppers, we started to see more fins.

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Eventually, we saw even more than just the fins as some of the dolphins popped their whole bodies out of the water.

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Despite our obvious success at the first spot, we went to a few other spots and saw even more pink dolphins!

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Eventually, it was time to go back to shore. I reflected on the fact that this was one of the greatest tours I’d ever experienced. Not only had I learned a lot about a new species, but my tourism dollars were helping protect that species. This tour had been worth every penny.

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Four years later, I am still impatient to rejoin Hong Kong Dolphinwatch for another day with the dolphins. I want to refresh my memory on these amazing creature, I want to enjoy the cruise with other animal lovers, and I want to take some better photos (and video!) now that I have a nicer camera that I actually know how to use!

Although it didn’t work out to see the dolphins on my trip to Hong Kong earlier this year, I’m hoping that I find myself back in the city with some free time someday soon.

If you make it to Hong Kong before I do, say hello to the dolphins for me!

Love, Elizabeth

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