HAIKOU, July 30. /TASS/. Chinese researchers have completed a deep-water whale-watching expedition in the South China Sea in Sanya, Xinhua reported citing the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Experts studied the populations of various species of whales living in the area of the Xisha (Paracel Islands) and Zhongsha archipelagoes, estimated their abundance and distribution in this area. During the research mission, in addition to visual observation, specialists carried out passive acoustic monitoring and collection of environmental DNA samples. For 21 days, the scientists covered more than 3,000 km and found 11 species of whales in this water area. Four species that were not encountered during a similar expedition last year were seen there this time: a dwarf killer whale, a small killer whale, a long-snout dolphin and a wide-mouthed dolphin. At the same time, according to historical documents, more than 30 species of whales used to inhabit the South China Sea, the agency specifies.
Earlier, the Hainan administration repeatedly stated it plans to constantly improve the environment, including the sea area adjacent to the island. Among the most promising projects contributing to the increase of biological diversity are the cultivation of coral reefs, work to increase the population of fish and marine animals, and the clean up of coastal areas near the largest cities in the region.
Moreover, Hainan is setting up a large, top-notch laboratory for deep ocean research. The facility is located in Sanya; the authorities allocated 150 million yuan (about $ 21.6 million) to its creation.