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China to protect rare dolphins amid opening of epic sea bridge

(People's Daily Online)    18:00, October 29, 2018

Chinese white dolphins (Chinanews.com/Hai Yang)

A pod of Chinese white dolphins was spotted near the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the world’s longest sea-crossing bridge, which opened on Tuesday, with experts stressing that the construction of the new bridge will not affect the rare marine mammals.

Nicknamed the “giant panda of the sea,” the Chinese white dolphin is now guarded under first-class state protection. According to WWF, the population inhabiting the Pearl River Estuary, including Hong Kong, is believed to be around 2,500, though there has been a worrisome decrease in the number of young dolphins sighted in Hong Kong waters over recent years.

In response to public concern that the newly opened bridge could jeopardize the habitat of the dolphins, Yu Lie, deputy director of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Authorities, told Xinhua on Wednesday that the new bridge will not affect the white dolphins, while a new institution will be established to monitor and protect the endangered animals living around the bridge area.

“We’ve promised that the dolphins will remain where they are despite the construction of the bridge. No dolphin was injured and killed during the construction of the bridge,” Yu added.

Echoing Yu, Chen Hailiang, director of the Pearl River Estuary Chinese White Dolphin Reserve, told Xinhua that by minimizing the impact of the bridge on the dolphin, China hopes to set an example of a balance between marine development and environmental protection.

“Initiated by authorities in Guangdong Province, Hong Kong and Macao, a new alliance will be set up to boost cooperation among conservation groups in those regions, to better protect the animals,” said Chen.

According to experts, a surveillance system that covers the whole bridge, as well as two artificial islands around it, will work round-the-clock to supervise the sound, flow and air condition of the dolphins’ habitat.

The 55 km bridge, situated in the Lingdingyang waters of the Pearl River Estuary, connects the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), Zhuhai and the Macao SAR. The bridge marks the first time Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macao have build a supergiant sea-crossing traffic project under the principle of "one country, two systems," according to Xinhua. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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