21 March 2019
Bigger-than-bite-size giant grouper will chomp on humans if there is no other prey. Photo:
Bigger-than-bite-size giant grouper will chomp on humans if there is no other prey. Photo:

Beware alien invasion of the deep on Buddha’s Birthday

They’re feral, finned, and if particularly peckish happy to snack on a passing human.

Apple Daily reported Monday that a 90-minute survey of Sai Kung waters last week by the Eco-Education and Resources Center and Green Power yielded sightings of eight of the monsters — Sabah giant grouper.

The investigation was prompted by concerns that one of the interlopers bit a person last month after being released into Hong Kong waters by people believing that the act of freeing a bigger organism will earn them religious rewards. 

The groups warned that the fish had a big appetite and can attack humans if there is not enough to eat, a big concern given the lack of fish in Hong Kong waters. The grouper have sharp, densely packed teeth and can inflict serious injuries.

ERC director Ken Ching said the grouper are bred by Universiti Malaysia Sabah and are not indigenous to Hong Kong. Tuesday is Buddha’s Birthday and more people are expected to release the giant fish to earn virtue.

The grouper eat twice their weight in a day and even sharks have been known to steer clear of them.

The two groups found grouper in waters ranging from Tsuen Wan to Tsing Yi, Tuen Mun, Hong Hum and the Central Pier.

ERC science manager Michelle Cheung said that giant grouper might contaminate other species if they interbreed.

The person in charge in one company selling the fish to release said the business has grown over the last two years and he let loose a 150-kilogram grouper once, Apple Daily reported. “People can take a boat to Tung Lung Chau to release two fish under one catty by paying a minimum charge of HK$200 (US$25.710),” he was quoted as saying.

Ching said people should not introduce feral organisms because it can damage the ecosystem if those species don’t have predators or can’t adapt to the new environment. Other animals lets loose in Hong Kong include grasshoppers, Chinese edible frogs, eagle rays and Chinese mitten crabs.

– Contact HKEJ at [email protected]


EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe