Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Taiwan Pink Dolphin Beaches and Dies on the Coast at Tonghsiao

Archive photo of three Taiwan Pink Dolphins in the waters off Taichung County.

On Friday, September 25th a Taiwan Pink Dolphin was found beached at Sinpu in Tonghsiao township, Miaoli County. When coast guard officials arrived the dolphin was found to already be dead. The Matsu's Fish Conservation Union (MFCU) is making enquiries into the death. According newspaper reports it seems that netting and sickness may have played a part in the death. What follows are English translations, courtesy of Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, of three local media reports. The MFCU will be following events closely and will post updates on the death as they become available.

Her name was Mrs. T to the humans that knew her. She was one of the first Taiwan pink dolphins to be catalogued by researchers. She drowned in late September 2009; a victim of entanglement in fishing gear. There are less than 70 of her kind left. [Beached Taiwan Pink Dolphin at Sinpu in Tonghsiao township, Miaoli County, Taiwan 25 September 2009:- Photo Coast Guard Administration]

United Daily News , 28 September 2009
Dolphin’s Death Three Days Ago: Drowning
Reporter Yu Wunwun

Three days ago a beached Chinese White Dolphin was found dead on the shores of the Sinpu fishing port, Tongsiao township, Miaoli County. The autopsy report by the Chiayi University and The National Museum of Natural Science is out and this poor white dolphin was already weak and had many illnesses, and its neck had been entangled in fishing nets and had serious scars; the main cause of death was “drowning, the aorta of the left ventricle was bloody and tangled, and had infectious pneumonia in its pleura.

Researchers said this animal weighed about 300 kilograms, an adult, but only 248 cm, it was thought that because the animal was very weak and had many sicknesses, and had been caught in a fishnet which wrapped around its neck, it had ingested a lot of sea water, as from the dissection it was discovered that a lot of seawater was in the animals trachea, and bubbles in its lungs. The Science Museum will make a specimen from the animal.

United Daily News, 26 September 2009
Beached Rare Chinese White Dolphin Discovered Dead on the Sandy Beach of Tongsiao Miaoli
Reported and photographed by Hu Pongsheng

Yesterday in the early morning a Chinese White Dolphin beached on the shores of the Sinpu Fishing Port, Tongsiao Township, Miaoli County. By the time the coast guard officials arrived on the scene the white dolphin was already dead. The Chinese White Dolphin is a Critically Endangered rare species of animal of which there are only about 100 in the coastal waters of western Taiwan.

This White Dolphins tail fin has many gashes and a fisher [who was on the scene] adamantly insisted that the animal’s head and tail had been tangled in fishing nets, but Yang Weicheng [Jack Yang, former student of CC Chou and LS Chou], assistant professor at Chiayi University did the dissection he suspected that the animal’s respiratory tract was infected, so the exact cause will have to await the examination report.

The National Museum of Natural Science said that after the dissection they will make the skeleton into a display specimen.

Yesterday morning at 7 am a fisher, Huang Yonghua discovered the beached white dolphin on the shore in front of the inspection station at the Sinpu Fishing Port, when the coast guard arrived in response to the report the white dolphin was already not breathing.

Huang Yonghua said when they go to sea to fish sometimes they will come across a group of 3-5 white dolphins swimming in the area and the beached dolphin was one of them. Recently there are often trawlers that come in close to the shores of Tongsiao Township violating the laws that prohibit operations within three nautical miles from shore – he suspects the murderer of the dolphin was a trawler.

“Wow, I’ve never seen a white dolphin!” said a bystander among the people who came to see the animal that was carried to the inspection station. This white dolphin was about 2.6 meters long and fishers estimated it weighed around 300 kilograms. Although it was already dead the coast guard officials nevertheless carefully sprayed water to decrease its temperature and would deliver it to the National Science of Natural Science at noon.

Yang Weicheng said the animal was a male and being rather skinny judged that it was malnourished. Upon dissection he found the respiratory tract was infected and swollen and suspects a bacterial infection.

The number of white dolphins is very small and there are few instances of their beaching. According to the Taiwan Cetacean Society’s secretary general Li Minghua from 1995 until today white dolphin’s recorded beachings are five for Jinmen and before yesterday’s only three for Taiwan itself – Tongsiao, Tainan and Taoyuan all have records of beachings.

Professor at National Taiwan University Chou Liansiang said there are only about one hundred in the population of Chinese White Dolphins along Taiwan’s west coast, and the populations along mainland China’s Pearl River, Hong Kong and so on number around 1500.

Backgrounder: Mastus Fish The Chinese White Dolphin is extremely rare. In early days academics and officials had little in the way of research data, only the fishers had seen the animals and spread rumours of its existence which led to its aura of mystery. When first born it is black, turning to grey in its youth and finally turns pink as an adult, hence its other name “pink dolphin”.

Because it appears along the west coast of Taiwan around the time of Matsu’s birthday, so the the fishers call it “Matsu’s fish” or “Matsu’s emissary” and consider it to be a sign of good fortune.

Liberty Times, 2009 09 25
White Dolphin Beaches and Dies on the Coast of Tonghsiao
Reported by Chen Jieliang in Miaoli

A fisher today discovered a beached white dolphin on the beach of Sinpu in Tonghsiao township, Miaoli County. Coast guard officials got to the scene to find the dolphin was not breathing and notified the Miaoli County government’s agriculture department which took the dolphin to the Science Museum in Taichung for dissection and to find the cause of death.

The fisher had discovered the dolphin on the beach about 200 meters from the Sinpu Safety Inspection Station during low tide and there was thus quite a distance from the water. By the time the coastguard official moved the dolphin to the inspection station it was already not breathing and there were only some indications of light wounds on the animal’s tail fin.

A person from the Taiwan Cetacean Society went to the scene and identified the animal as being an adult 260 cm in length but the cause of death would have to await the dissection. The coastguard official obtained ice and a truck and after the carcass was packed in ice it was taken to the science museum for dissection. The official said that last year there were three cases of beachings at Tongsiao but they were all of black dolphins.

See: Update: Taiwan Humpback Dolphin Beaches and Dies on the Coast of Tonghsiao

ETSSTAWG Chair sends a letter to COA Minister concerning the recent death of a Humpback Dolphin

Also see (2011):
Another Taiwan Pink Dolphin Death

Two Pink Dolphins found Dead in Hong Kong

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Air quality worsens from Typhoon Morakot's dust

Wuchi Power Plant through the haze. Wuchi Power Plant at Taichung Harbour named the world's dirtiest coal-fired power plant by the prestigious science journal, Nature.

Dried sediment like this on the Jhoushuei River results in large quantities of fine dust.

The dusty floodplain at the confluence of the Jhoushuei and Chingshuei Rivers on the border of Nantou, Changhua and Yunlin Counties. The hills of Huben are clearly visible in the background.

The air quality in central Taiwan has always been a problem. The world's dirtiest coal-fired power plant in Wuchi, Taichung does its bit in greying central skies. Then, the Formosa Plastics plant at Mailiao and various other industrial parks all add to the toxic clouds. Add to that the burning of rice fields, garbage, ghost money and the exhausts of millions of scooters, cars and trucks and you have really scary air. But it doesn't stop there. You need to add dust, too. The lower courses of Taiwan's rivers tend to have very wide floodplains. This is due to the volume of water within rivers increasing dramatically during typhoons. With the building of dams and weirs on large rivers like the Jhoushuei and Chingshuei the greatly reduced flow of water results in the degradation of coastal wetlands and estuaries which are critical habitat for the endangered pink dolphins and causes the wide river floodplains to really dry out and dust becomes a major problem as a result...and when the Hushan Dam is completed it will only add to the problem. And this dust really helps push down the air quality index when in gets in the mix with all the other pollutants blowing around. Understandably its just got worse in the wake of Typhoon Morakot...much of the destruction and mud resulting from decades of poor land and water management.

Air quality worsens from Typhoon Morakot's dust in the Taipei Times.

Typhoon Morakot: The Writing's on the Wall

River Dust

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ideologically Based Development: What’s the Point of Environmental Impact Assessment?

Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association's founding director standing in the haze in front of the world's dirtiest coal-fired powerplant in Wuchi, Taichung.

A recent article on the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association website titled Ideologically Based Development: What’s the Point of Environmental Impact Assessment? gives some valuable insight into the failings of environmental impact assessment in Taiwan and the type of mindset environmental groups come up against when dealing with the government department appointed to protect Taiwan's environment. Wild’s founding director, Robin Winkler, served a two-year term on the EIA commission.