Abstract A series of land-based surveys were conducted at two vantage points of known dolphin abundance in Hong Kong. The purpose of this study was to determine the behavioral response of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin ( Sousa chinensis) to vessel traffic. Results indicated that dolphins dove for a longer duration in areas of heavy vessel traffic or when there was the presence of an oncoming vessel. Dependent upon the type of vessel and the relative distance, dolphins might flee, continue their ongoing activity, perform a new activity, or approach the vessel. Whilst slow-moving vessels appeared not to cause immediate stress on the dolphin community, fast-moving vessels often cause disruption of behavior and social life. In order to ensure a better environment for the animals, we suggest that proactive conservation measures such as the creation of a marine park, rules and regulations for dolphin watching activities, and regional control of vessel speed should be implemented.