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Wai-Ho Wong (Simon) 黃偉浩

Ph.D. (2017)


Post-Doctoral Researcher

University of Hong Kong and  

Cetacea Research Institute 

E-mail: simonwwh(AT) 


Academic Record
  • Ph.D., The University of Hong Kong (2017)

  • B.Sc. (double major: Ecology & Biodiversity and Geography), The University of Hong Kong (2010)


Macro- and micro-scale anthropogenic pressure on Chinese white dolphins in Hong Kong: Quantifying impacts of habitat loss and coastal tourism.  (2017). Ph.D. Thesis.  The University of Hong Kong.


Dr. Leszek Karczmarski, The University of Hong Kong

Abstract:   The world's largest population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) in the Pearl River Estuary is exposed to some of the world's greatest concentration of anthropogenic threats; much of it due to the region's rapid urbanisation and industrialisation in recent decades. By assessing behavioural responses of humpback dolphins to long-term and large-scale environmental change in Hong Kong, and short-term but frequent behavioural disturbance due to unregulated dolphin-watch tourism, this study investigated humpback dolphins as a model system of a coastal delphinid in the coastal seas of the Anthropocene.

Field surveys were conducted between 2011 and 2014 to identify humpback dolphins’ distribution pattern. Resource selection function was applied to model the dolphin's habitat selection process and quantify their long-term habitat preference. The results indicate that humpback dolphins display a heterogeneous pattern in habitat selectivity that is conditional to distinctive sets of key factors at different spatial scales. By using Landsat data and historic archives, and by quantifying a cumulative habitat loss over the past 40 years, this study reveals that during that time the natural shoreline providing critical ecological functions to humpback dolphins in Hong Kong has been drastically reduced. Occurrence probabilities reconstructed for the time-periods prior to major habitat alterations, and occurrence probabilities projected into future years (when all currently planned projects are to be completed) indicate a major drop of habitat use by the dolphins near previous reclamation areas. All current Marine Protected Areas for humpback dolphin conservation are already affected by the ongoing environmental change and this will intensify in the future.

Shore-based scan-sampling surveys were conducted between 2013 and 2014 to identify a distribution pattern of the dolphins at one of their main feeding area in Hong Kong. With year-round sightings, the dolphins used this area selectively at different seasons and time of day. Only a small portion of the area was used as feeding location, within a narrow range of distances from shore, demonstrating a clear pattern of spatio-temporal fine-scale habitat selection that has not been accounted for in the current local conservation measures.

Behavioural responses of humpback dolphins to small-scale dolphin-watch operations were investigated by tracking the dolphins' movement and recording fine-scale changes in the movement parameters. Analyses show that movement patterns of the dolphins, distinctive between behavioural states, were significantly altered by the presence of dolphin-watch boats. Multivariate models reveal that the disturbance by dolphin-watch operations can be seen as an external factor affecting the dolphins’ spatial decisions. Consequently, an appropriate regulatory mechanism is needed to manage the dolphin-watch tourism and minimise its impacts on the target species.

In summary, this study quantifies humpback dolphins’ response to large long-term and short-term chronic anthropogenic impacts, and indicates that various human activities affect the dolphins' daily behaviour and habitat selection. The conservation actions that are currently in place are ineffective in protecting humpback dolphins from man-made threats and will not be effective in preserving their habitat in the long-term. This implies serious ecological consequences and an urgent need for science-based and habitat-oriented conservation strategy.


Wong WH & Karczmarski L (in prep.)  Habitat selection of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins in coastal waters of Hong Kong 

Wong WH & Karczmarski L (in prep.)  Cumulative impacts of habitat change on Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins across time and space in Hong Kong 

Wong WH, Gailey G. & Karczmarski L (in prep.)  Spatial and temporal variation of occurrence of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins in a key foraging area

Wong WH, Gailey G. & Karczmarski L (in prep.)  Movement patterns of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and their response to dolphin watch tourism in Hong Kong

Karczmarski L, Huang SL, Wong WH, Chang WL, Chan SCY & Keith M (2017).  Distribution of a coastal delphinid under the impact of long-term habitat loss: Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins off Taiwan’s west coast.  Estuaries and Coasts 40: 594–603.  DOI: 10.1007/s12237-016-0146-5 

Karczmarski L, Huang SL, Or CKM, Gui D, Chan SCY, Lin W, Porter L, Wong WH, Zheng R, Ho YW, Chui SYS, Tiongson AJC, Mo Y, Chang WL, Kwok JHW, Tang RWK, Lee ATL, Yiu SW, Keith M, Gailey G, Wu Y (2016).   Humpback dolphins in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta:  Status, threats, and conservation challenges.  Advances in Marine Biology 73: 27–64.  DOI: 10.1016/bs.amb.2015.09.003


Karczmarski L, Huang S-L, Wong WH, Porter L, Ho YW, Or CKM, Lin W, Chan SCY, Zheng R, Chui SYS, Gailey G & Wu Y (2014). The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis): Hong Kong Red List Assessment. WWF Hong Kong and Hong Kong Red List Authority. 22 pp.



Wong WH & Karczmarski L (2017). Habitat selection and cumulative impacts of habitat loss on Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) in Hong Kong.  22nd Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Halifax, Canada.

Wong WH, Gailey G. & Karczmarski L (2015).  Impacts of coastal tourism on Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins (Sousa chinensis) in Hong Kong.  International Conference on Biodiversity, Ecology and Conservation of Marine Ecosystems 2015 (BECoME 2015), Hong Kong.

Wong WH, Gailey G. & Karczmarski L (2013).  Coastal ecotourism and industrial impacts on Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins in Hong Kong.  20th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Dunedin, New Zealand. 


Invited Workshop Contributions
  • 2017:  Chinese White Dolphin Population and Habitat Viability Assessment, IUCN and Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, 10-13 Jan 2017, Hong Kong.

  • 2016:  China Conservation Expo 2016 - Fostering Chinese Talents in Nature Conservation, 23-24 July 2016, Beijing, China.

  • 2014:  Chinese White Dolphin Conservation Coalition 1st Training Workshop, 12-13 Jun 2014, Zhuhai, China

  • 2014:  Planning for Chinese White Dolphin Protected Areas and Corridors in the Southeast Asian Sea Eco-region, 20-23 Feb 2014, Xiamen, China.

  • 2013:  Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Chinese White Dolphin Conservation Workshop, 15-16 Jun 2013, Zhuhai, China. 

Online Resources

Wong W-H, Gailey G, Chan SCY, Sychenko O, Or CKM, Yiu S-W, Chang W-L, Behrmann C & Karczmarski L (2012).  Users Manual: DISCOVERY 1.2  Web address: [PDF]


2014/2015:  Influence of anthropogenic activities on Chinese White Dolphins in Hong Kong.                         (with L. Karczmarski)  -  Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong

Relevant Experience
  • 2015:  Field Research Scientist - Surveillance and monitoring of Western Gray Whales, part of Monitoring and Mitigation Plan (MMP) during Seismic Surveys for oil and gas exploration, Sakhalin Island, Russia.  

  • 2012:  Field Research Station Manager, Cetacean Ecology Lab, HKU.

  • 2009:  Stranding Response Team, Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong (OPCFHK).

  • 2009:  Volunteer Assistant, Investigation of the population status and fisheries interactions of cetaceans in Bangladesh (Cetacean Diversity Conservation Plan).  University Student Sponsorship Programme (USSP), Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong (OPCFHK)

Other Activities
  • Member of the Board of Directors: Humanity in Focus, Not-for-profit Charitable Organisation based in Hong Kong (2009 - 2013)

© Wai-Ho Wong

© Wai-Ho Wong

© Wai-Ho Wong

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