A large whale shark was spotted in Hong Kong waters earlier this week, according to a video clip doing the rounds on social media.
On Tuesday, a man posted footage of what he claimed was a four-meter-long whale shark moving in waters off Sai Kung.
In the 28-second clip that quickly went viral, the gentle marine giant, whose scientific name is Rhincodon typus, could be seen with spots and stripes on its body.
The slow-moving whale shark was seen near a rental fishing boat before it swam away, according to the clip posted on a Facebook page dedicated to fishing enthusiasts.
The netizen who uploaded the video told Ming Pao Daily that the footage was captured by one of his customers.
The video triggered a lot of chatter in online forums, with people commenting that it is rare to get a sighting of a live whale shark in Hong Kong waters.
In August last year, a whale shark was spotted off the coast of Chang Chau, but the animal was found dead and floating on the waters in a decomposed state.
While many people were excited about the sighting of a live creature now, some netizens said they were worried that the whale shark may have lost its way.
Ming Pao quoted spokespersons from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation as saying that were yet to receive any report on the shark sighting.
A curator of the aquarium at Ocean Park who saw the online clip said the shark appeared to be a young one because a fully-grown animal normally measures 7-9 meters in length.
He admitted that it is very rare to see such species in Hong Kong waters.
Whale sharks are the largest known extant fish species that can be found in tropical and temperate oceans. The creatures have a life expectancy of up to 100 years.
The marine giants have been listed as endangered species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
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