The endangered Chinese white dolphin is now under,first-grade proteetion in China, the samelevel of protection officially granted the giant panda and the South China tiger. Also known asthe "giant panda of the sea " and a "national treasure of the sea, " the marine mammal primarilylives in Sanniang Bay. in Qinzhou City, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. where the quality ofseawater is good and marine life abounds.
It is the weekend and friends suggestthat we visit the dolphins. A good idea,we thought, so we drove from down-town Qinzhou bound for SanniangBay. Motoring down the new asphalt roadbetween green fields sparkling beneath asettled morning mist, a romantic and mov-ing legend came to mind.
Long, long ago, at Sanniang Bay therelived only three handsome lads who de-pended on each other for survival. One day,three fairies descended from the heavensThey discovered the bountiful bay and thediligent and handsome lads, and decided tomarry into the mortal world. The Jade Em-peror, a divinity presiding over all mattersof happiness and disaster both in the heav-ens and on the earth, permitted them onlythree years in the mortal realm. They leda happy life, in love and raising their chil-dren. Each day, while the husbands fishedon the abundant waters, the wives remainedat home weaving nets. But the three yearspassed quickly. When the three fairies didnot return home on the day he decreed, theJade Emperor was so furious that he broughtforth violent winds and storm surges to en-gulf the husbands in their fishing boats.The three wives stood by the shore in thewild wind and waves, shoulder-to-shoulder,waiting and wishing for their husbands re-turn. Eventually, after many days, the threetransformed into granite rocks, and theystand there still, side-by-side, waiting forthe return of their beloved husbands.
It was about a 30-minute drive to theSanniang Bay Scenic Area, where the Dol-phin Gate greeted us. The gate takes theform of a large sculpture consisting of threelovely and plump dolphins soaring in theair. The morning bay was calm and the airwas clear and fresh. The crowds were light,not because this is a newly developed scenicspot, but because we arrived just after theseven-day Labor Day holiday. We some-times encountered attendants and workersin the scenic area. We were told that the ma-jority of the workers were previously fish-ermen. As their villages were converted totourist areas, many young fishermen cameto work for the facility. Their smiles cameeasy, and it seemed they were happy withthe change in lifestyle.