In search of Khanom’s pink dolphins
SOME BELIEVE IT TO BE just a myth, while others have claimed they’ve seen them with their own eyes.
Either way, the search for pink dolphins in Khanom district, the northernmost district of Nakhon Si Thammarat Province in southern Thailand, is real.
What are pink dolphins?
They are a sub-species of the Chinese white dolphin (Sousa chinensis chinensis) and a variety of Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphin.
At birth, the dolphins are black. They change to grey, then pinkish with spots when young. An adult Chinese white dolphin is white or pink and may appear as an albino dolphin to some.
They can live up to 40 years.
The dolphins are pink due to the many overdeveloped blood vessels under their skin that regulate their body temperature.
The adult pink dolphins would usually come to the water surface to breathe for 20 to 30 seconds before diving deep again, for two to eight minutes. They rarely stay underwater for more than four minutes.
Underwater World Singapore, an aquarium on Sentosa Island in Singapore, once housed seven pink dolphins, but the attraction has since closed due to lease expiry.
The only other place to see the beautiful creatures is in Khanom district.
According to Bangkok Post, almost every morning, around 10 pink dolphins gather around Thong Nian Bay off Khanom, swimming alongside fishing boats while waiting for small fish to come their way.
It’s a rare experience because the dolphins only live in fertile habitats.
There are only 2,000 pink dolphins in the world, living in between the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. About 150 in Thailand, 50 of which are in Khanom.
Curious visitors can simply book any of the registered 58 local fishing boats under the Laem Prathap Eco-tourism Society at Laem Prathap pier to see the pink dolphins.
Each boat can accommodate up to six passengers and the ride costs up to THB1,000 (US$30) for a two-hour trip. The trip can be booked through your accommodation.
According to beachbumadventure.com, compared to the dolphin trips in places like Indonesia and the Philippines, the one at Khanom was more feel good as the dolphins weren’t being “chased”.
How to get there?
Fly Nok Air from Bangkok to Nakhon Si Thammarat airport and take a land transfer to Khanom.
Alternatively, rent a car and cruise along Highway 401 (Surat Thani-Nakhon Si Thammarat), then turn into Road 4014 to Khanom at the Klong Leng Intersection (with dolphin statues).