By: Brooke Chenoweth
Hope, an injured Chinese white dolphin, has become a symbol for those campaigning to save these endangered creatures as development, overfishing, and increased traffic off the coast of Lantau threatens to wipe out the species entirely. Gary Stokes of Sea Shepherd Hong Kong is crowdfunding to raise money and awareness through his campaign, FUEL for HOPE, to help save an injured white dolphin found off the coast of Lantau in January.
A trip out to Tai O on Lantau to see the Chinese white dolphins is on many tourists’ to-do lists. Sadly the dolphins are today an endangered species, and the impact of development and tourism on their habitat has taken its toll, with numbers diminishing rapidly in recent years. One of these rare and magnificent creatures was spotted off the coast of Lantau in January with life-threatening injuries to its back and tail, believed to have been caused by a boat’s propeller, and the movement to save him has brought the dolphins’ plight into the spotlight.
Despite initial delays and debate over whether or not to intervene Ocean Park, AFCD, and the Swire Institute of Marine Science, have been working closely with Gary Stokes of Sea Shepherd Hong Kong. Gary has been going out daily to monitor the dolphin’s condition and feed him. There have been ongoing attempts to rescue the animal, who rescuers have named “Hope.” Gary says, “Catching a wild dolphin is challenging to say the least. The area we search daily is approximately 10km by 5km and we’re looking for a 2.5m dolphin. Each day we learn more and more about Hope -his behaviour patterns, movements etc. I just hope that we can still do something for his tail, which is a mess and infected, but he has so much strength and will to live.”
The tale of Hope and his injured tail has captivated people across the city, with many wanting to help in some way. As well as raising awareness and sharing the story of the dolphin’s plight, donations can be made to cover the costs associated with the rescue mission and daily monitoring. Gary has set up an account at GoFundMe, which has already raised over $4000 USD in 24 hours, and this will go a long way towards ensuring that Hope gets the support and help he needs.
You can follow Hope’s progress and the rescue missions on the Save the Injured Dolphin Facebook page. We’re hoping for a happy ending to this story of Hope.
All images copyright: Gary Stokes