Date
25 September 2017
A short-finned pilot whale caused much excitement near the Tsim Tsa Tsui waterfront on Tuesday. Experts believe it could be the first sighting of such species in local waters. Photos: Philippa Halton
A short-finned pilot whale caused much excitement near the Tsim Tsa Tsui waterfront on Tuesday. Experts believe it could be the first sighting of such species in local waters. Photos: Philippa Halton

Short-finned pilot whale spotted for first time in HK waters

People standing on the waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui had a pleasant surprise late Tuesday morning as an unusual visitor was seen swimming in the waters just off the shoreline. 

Between 11 am and 1:30 pm, a young whale surfaced in the waters, causing much excitement and evoking memories of a humpback whale seen in March 2009.

Pictures taken by a witness led experts to conclude that the latest visitor was a short-finned pilot whale, the first time such a creature was seen in Hong Kong waters, Ming Pao Daily reported.

The whale, dark-grey in color and bearing a spotless body, is believed to be a social animal.

The Ocean Park Conservation Foundation’s Cetacean Stranding Response Team rushed to the scene after receiving the reports of the whale sighting, but could not spot the marine mammal. 

The team has asked the marine police to keep an eye on the waters and notify it if the whale is spotted again.

Judging from its length of about three meters, the whale is believed to be relatively young. A new born short-finned pilot whale is normally 1.4-meters long, while an adult measures between 4.1 meters and 5.3 meters.

Samuel Hung, chairman of the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society, said short-finned pilot whales normally live in waters around Taiwan. The sighting in Hong Kong suggests that the whale may have gone astray from its pod. It is possible that it may have suffered some kind of illness that disturbed its body navigation system, he said.

He was worried that the whale might die due to lack of care and nourishment from its mother, or due to collision with ships in the harbor. He urged people who spot the whale to leave it alone and report to authorities.

– Contact us at [email protected]

TL/AC/RC

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe