[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We studied life history characteristics of the Hong Kong/Pearl River Estuary population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis), based on data from 120 specimens stranded between 1995 and 2009, 40 individuals biopsied at sea, and a long-term (14+ yr) photo-identification study. Ages were determined for 112 specimens by thin-sectioning teeth and counting growth layer groups. Estimated length at birth was 101 cm. Longevity was at least 38 yr, and there was little difference in growth patterns of males and females. Growth was described by a Bayesian two-phase Gompertz model; asymptotic length was reached at 249 cm. The tooth pulp cavity filled at an average of 18.5 yr of age. Physical maturity was reached at between 14 and 17 yr of age, apparently a few years after attainment of sexual maturity. Maximum lengths and weights of about 268 cm and 240 kg were attained. Females appear to lose all their spots by 30 yr, although males may retain some spotting throughout life. Calving occurred throughout the year, with a broad peak from March to June. Of 60 females monitored at sea for >14 yr of the study, none were documented to have more than three calves, suggestive of low reproductive output or low calf survival.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Since the early 1990s, there has been an active program in Hong Kong to manage and protect local populations of small cetaceans from the effects of massive development in the area. This paper reviews the progress that has been made. Only two species regularly occur there: the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin and the finless porpoise. Because most development has occurred in the western waters of Hong Kong, where generally only the humpback dolphin occurs, most of the work has been conducted on that species. Development of large infrastructure projects (such as airports, bridges, expressways, power plants, fuel facilities, and container ports) in Hong Kong often results in land reclamation, dredging and dumping of spoils, pipe and cable laying, percussive and bored piling work, underwater blasting, large increases in vessel traffic, and other impacts. Several mitigation measures have been used with varying levels of success, including bubble curtains/jackets, exclusion zones, ramping up of piling hammers, acoustic decoupling of noisy equipment, vessel speed limits, no-dumping policies, and silt curtains. Baseline, construction-phase, and operational-phase cetacean monitoring is often conducted to evaluate the success of conservation measures put into place. The Environmental Impact Assessment process in Hong Kong has involved cetaceans to a degree perhaps higher than anywhere else in the world, and much can be learned from studying the successes and failures of this situation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A diastereoisomer (alpha, beta, and gamma) specific analytical method for measuring hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDs) was developed using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS-MS). The method developed was applied to analyze blubber of small cetaceans to divulge the distribution and temporal variation of HBCDs in the Asian marine environment. HBCDs were detected in all the blubber samples of finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides) and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) collected from the South China Sea during 1990-2001. Concentrations of HBCDs were higher in humpback dolphins (31-380 ng/g lipid) than in finless porpoises (4.7-55 ng/g lipid), which can be attributed to habitat differences. Average concentrations of alpha-HBCD in finless porpoises increased from 9.5 ng/g lipid in 1990 to 35 ng/g lipid in 2000/01. alpha-HBCD was predominant among the three isomers with some exceptions in finless porpoises collected in 1990. This is the first report on HBCDs contamination in marine mammals from Southeast Asia.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The potential health risks due to inorganic substances, mainly metals, was evaluated for the two resident marine mammals in Hong Kong, the Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin (Sousa chinensis) and the Finless Porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides). The stomachs from the carcasses of twelve stranded dolphins and fifteen stranded porpoises were collected and the contents examined. Concentrations of thirteen trace elements (Ag, As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cs, Cu, Hg, Mn, Ni, Se, V and Zn) were determined by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS). An assessment of risks of adverse effects was undertaken using two toxicity guideline values, namely the Reference Dose (RfD), commonly used in human health risk assessment, and the Toxicity Reference Value (TRV), based on terrestrial mammal data. The levels of trace metals in stomach contents of dolphins and porpoises were found to be similar. Risk quotients (RQ) calculated for the trace elements showed that risks to the dolphins and porpoises were generally low and within safe limits using the values based on the TRV, which are less conservative than those based on the RfD values. Using the RfD-based values the risks associated with arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, nickel and mercury were comparatively higher. The highest RQ was associated with arsenic, however, most of the arsenic in marine organisms should be in the non-toxic organic form, and thus the calculated risk is likely to be overestimated.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In 2002, a small population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, Sousa chinensis, was discovered in the coastal waters of the eastern Taiwan Strait. Serious conservation concerns about this population led to a survey of most of the coastal waters of western Taiwan to better under- stand the status of this population. Surveys were con- ducted from boats (inshore waters) and a sea-kayak or land-based platforms (littoral waters inshore of large sandbars). Humpback dolphins were sighted 35 times, all within a stretch of inshore waters approximately 100 km (linear distance) and within 2 km from shore (none were observed in littoral waters). Including consid- eration of other records of this species, the main distri- bution of these dolphins was estimated to be approximately 515 km2 of water off central western Taiwan, where industrialization is a serious and rapidly increasing issue. The population's abundance and den- sity were estimated to be 99 individuals (coefficient of variation 51.6%) and 19.3 individuals/100 km 2 , respect- ively, which is quite low when compared to the Pearl River estuary population. Assessing this population using the IUCN Red List criteria resulted in a ''Critically Endan- gered'' categorization, reinforcing the urgency of the situation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and organochlorine compounds (OCs) were determined in the blubber of male finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides) collected in 1990 and 2000/01 from the South China Sea. Among the organohalogen compounds analyzed, DDTs and PCBs were the predominant contaminants in the porpoises, ranging from 26,000 to 260,000 and 1400 to 28,000 ng/g lipid wt., respectively. PBDEs ranged from a minimum of 84 ng/g lipid wt., in 1990 to a maximum of 980 ng/g lipid wt., in 2001, showing a significant increase during the time period investigated. Congener profiles in finless porpoises did not shift to higher BDE congeners during these years, implying a continuous discharge of lower BDE commercial mixtures, such as PentaBDE. For OCs, HCHs concentrations decreased significantly, while others did not exhibit any significant temporal variation. Biomagnification factors (BMFs) were found to be highest for CHLs and lowest for HCB. PBDEs and PCBs had comparable BMFs, indicating a similar potential for biomagnification through the food web.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are one of the flame retardants widely used in plastics, textiles, electronic appliances, and electrical household appliances. In this study, PBDEs and organochlorine compounds (OCs) were determined in the archived samples from the Environmental Specimen Bank for Global Monitoring (es-BANK) at Ehime University. The blubber of cetaceans found stranded along the coasts of Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines and India during the period from 1990 to 2001 were employed for chemical analysis to understand the present status of contamination and the specific accumulation of PBDEs. PBDEs were detected in all the cetacean samples analyzed, and concentrations were one or two orders of magnitude lower than for PCBs and DDTs. Concentrations of PBDEs ranged from a low value of 6.0 ng/g lipid wt. in spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) from India to a high value of 6000 ng/g lipid wt. in Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) from Hong Kong. No difference in PBDE levels between coastal and offshore species from Japan was observed, implying the existence of pollution sources in this region other than Japan. Highest concentrations of PBDEs were found in animals from Hong Kong, followed by Japan, and much lower levels from the Philippines and India, suggesting that developing nations may also have pollution sources of PBDEs. Geographical distribution of PBDEs in Asian waters was different from PCBs but similar to DDTs.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The risks to Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins and Finless Porpoises associated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were assessed. Stomach contents from twelve stranded Humpback Dolphins and sixteen stranded Finless Porpoises were collected. Concentrations of total and isomer-specific PCBs in the stomach contents were determined using dual-column gas chromatography equipped with electron capture detectors (GC-ECD). Risks due to the PCBs were assessed in three scenarios, based on total PCBs (summation of 41 PCB congeners), total toxicity equivalency (TEQs) and PCB 118, using the toxicity reference values (TRVs) as the threshold effects benchmarks. The calculated risk quotients (RQs) showed that risks due to PCBs were generally low or negligible. Specifically, RQs from total TEQs and total PCBs for Finless Porpoises are below one, suggesting that PCBs should be a low risk for the Finless Porpoise in Hong Kong waters. However, the Humpback Dolphin has RQs larger than 1 for total TEQs and total PCBs when the 95th percentile data were used in the evaluation. This indicates that further investigation may be needed to examine more closely the potential impact of toxic contaminants in the habitat of the Humpback Dolphin.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and organochlorine compounds (OCs) were determined in the blubber, liver and kidney of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) and finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides) stranded in Hong Kong coastal waters during 1995-2001. Among the organohalogen compounds analyzed, DDTs were the most dominant contaminants with concentrations ranging from 9.9 to 470 microg/g lipid wt. PBDEs in Hong Kong cetaceans, which are reported for the first time, were detected in all the samples with values ranging from 0.23 to 6.0 microg/g lipid wt., with a predominance of BDE-47. Results from this study suggest PBDEs should be classified as priority pollutants in Asia. Higher concentrations were found in humpback dolphins than in finless porpoises, and this was attributed mainly to differences in habitat. Elevated residues of PCBs and DDTs in some cetaceans suggest these species may be at risk.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Few studies have examined the home range characteristics of coastal dolphins or porpoises in detail. The location data of 40 Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) from Hong Kong waters and Lingding Bay, with a range of 10-67 sightings each, were analyzed. Range size of individuals varied greatly from 24 km 2 to 304 km 2 , with an average of 99.5 km 2 . Each estimated range encompassed only a small portion of the overall population's range. Age class, association with a fishing boat, distribution and availability of food resources, and human activities and distur- bances all influenced ranging patterns of hump- back dolphins in the Pearl River Estuary. Seasonal and annual variations in range use were observed among individual dolphins. While providing information previously unknown about these dol- phins, this study also indicated that further inves- tigations are needed to identify the exact ranging patterns and home range characteristics for this humpback dolphin population.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The status of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) in Chinese waters (including Taiwan) is reviewed. Within China, humpback dolphins range from the Vietnam border north to the mouth of the Yangtze River, and there are estimated to be about eight populations in China. Little is known of stock structure, except for a preliminary conclusion that animals in Xiamen and Hong Kong represent separate populations. Abundance has been estimated only for Hong Kong and the Pearl River Estuary (about 1,500 animals) and Xiamen (80 dolphins). In the early 1960s, 36 animals were killed in Xiamen Harbor, but other direct takes appear to be rare. Incidental catches are known in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Estuary, but their impacts are not known. Only preliminary work on life history has been conducted. There appears to be a calving peak from spring to summer, and calves are about 100 cm long at birth. Scant data indicate that sexual maturity in females may occur at about 9-10 years of age, with males maturing later. Dolphins in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Estuary have indi-
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Blubber samples of 2 cetacean species, the Indo-Pacific hump-backed dolphin (Sousa chinensis) (n=11) and finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides) (n=9), collected from Hong Kong coastal waters were analysed for persistent organochlorines. Mean concentration in the blubber of DDTs was ranked first (46 μg/g wet wt.), followed by PCBs (24 μg/g wet wt.), HCHs (0.76 μg/g wet wt.), chlordane compounds (0.38 μg/g wet wt.) and HCB (0.07 μg/g wet wt.). The present cetacean species may potentially be faced with high risk due to the elevated level of DDTs and PCBs. Relatively high concentrations of PCBs and DDTs can be attributed to the continuous environmental input of these compounds in the Far East region including Hong Kong. Highly chlorinated PCBs such as IUPAC Nos. 138, 153, 180 were the prominent congeners, accounting for 39% of the total PCBs. Mean concentrations of 6 non- and mono-ortho coplanar congeners were 2.1 and 2.8 μg/g wet wt. in the hump-backed dolphin and finless porpoise, respectively. Among highly toxic coplanar PCBs, mono-ortho congener IUPAC No. 118 and non-ortho congener IUPAC No. 126 were estimated to have the greatest toxicity contribution. Tris(4-chlorophenyl) methane (TCPMe) and tris(4-chlorophenyl) methanol (TCPMeOH), which have been the most recently identified microcontaminants, were also detected with the highest concentration of 290 and 300 ng/g (wet wt. basis), respectively. The concentrations of TCPMe relative to TCPMeOH in cetaceans from Hong Kong coastal waters were significantly higher than those found in various seals collected from other parts of the world, suggesting the different metabolic system of these two compounds between seals and cetaceans. Correlations between the concentrations of tris-chlorophenyl compounds with other persistent organochlorines such as HCHs, CHLs, DDTs and PCBs were significant, suggesting their accumulation nature similar to these organochlorines.