- A dead whale was found in the waters of Sai Kung, Hong Kong, on July 31, 2023.
- Many Sai Kung residents are blaming tourism and whale watching as the reason for the whale’s death.
- The Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong warned human activities can cause stress and lead to life-threatening consequences for whales.
The discovery of a whale carcass in Hong Kong waters on Monday has sparked an outpouring of grief on social media, with many comments blaming the mammal’s death on sightseers.
Many residents thought the dead mammal was the whale that has attracted groups of sightseers since it was first spotted in the city’s waters in mid-July.
Compass Chan, scientific officer of Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong, didn’t confirm whether it was the same whale. But he said an initial check on the dead whale found a new wound on its back, in addition to two old wounds.
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“It’s a pity,” Chan said at a media briefing. “If it really died, I think it’s a good chance to let everyone to think seriously how we should get along with other species in the nature.”
Its cause of death would have to be confirmed by a necropsy, he said.
After the carcass was found in the waters in Sai Kung — a district known for its hiking trails, beaches and islands — many residents have taken issue with the whale-watching activities seen over the past two weeks.
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They accused the sightseers of causing the death of the whale because of their ignorance. Some reposted a Canto-pop song whose title translated as “Whale Eater” on their social media.
The foundation said in its previous statement that a crowd of people was spotted approaching the animal, believed to be a Bryde’s whale and to be around 23 feet long. It warned that human activities can cause stress and lead to life-threatening consequences, saying the whale already had propeller wounds.
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The government said Friday night that the necropsy might take several days and the results would serve as a reference for it to handle the emergence of whales in Hong Kong in the future.