BY APB Staff on 3 Aug 2023

The whale had sustained injuries consistent with a boat propeller

The carcass of a whale has been spotted in Hong Kong waters, police have confirmed.

The news comes just days after onlookers caught a rare sighting of a Bryde’s whale in Sai Kung, with footage of the animal quickly going viral. Journalists and Hongkongers flocked to the area hoping to get a glimpse of the animal, with locals offering rides on boats to get close to it.

The original footage of the whale was captured from a nearby boat, understood to be from Hebe Haven Yacht Club.

Speaking to RTHK after the original sighting, witness Catherine Lumsden had said: “We’re out all the time in that area on the water. And we’ve never seen anything remotely like it. It was just magnificent.”

On Tuesday, local media reported that the whale had sustained injuries consistent with a boat propeller — leading conservationists from WWF to urge people to keep their distance.

On Monday, police received a report that the carcass of a whale had been spotted to the south of Shelter Island. Its carcass was lifted out of the water and sent to local aquarium and theme park Ocean Park for an autopsy. It has not officially been confirmed it is the same whale.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) and Marine Police are investigating the incident, with further details to be issued. 

The news has sparked an outpouring of grief and frustration on social media, with many criticising authorities for not acting to protect the whale sooner.

Compass Chan, a scientific officer at the Ocean Park foundation, tells SCMP the death offered a chance “for the public to reflect seriously on how to get along with different animal species”. 

The Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera brydei) is a baleen whale, meaning it has no teeth and instead has rows of plates. They are found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, and can grow up to 15 metres long. Although Bryde’s whales are the only large whales to spend their time entirely in tropical or sub-tropical waters, sightings of the animal are rare in Hong Kong.

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