Whale sighting in Sai Kung; HK authorities urge the public not to get close
Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) has urged the public not to pursue the whale.
“Members of the public should not go on boat trips to watch the suspected Bryde’s whale emerged in waters in the vicinity of High Island and Port Shelter,” says a spokesperson of the AFCD.
“The department has stepped up patrols of the waters where the whale has appeared and at places including the Sai Kung Public Pier, urged the public not to go on boat trips to watch the whale. Meanwhile, upon sighting of whales, the public is reminded that they should keep a distance, slow down their vessels and be aware of their personal safety to avoid accidents.”
A photo online showed the whale was spotted with wounds caused possibly by boat propellers.
Authorities remind the public that whales are protected animals and if they are caught getting too close and harming them could constitute an offense.
“All cetaceans are protected by the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170). Irresponsible whale-watching behavior may constitute an act of wilful disturbance of protected wild animals. Offenders are reliable to one year’s imprisonment and a fine of HK$100,000 upon conviction,” added the spokesperson of the AFCD.
Eric Chan Kowk-ki, chief secretary and acting chief executive while John Lee Ka-chiu is overseas, has ordered the police, the AFCD and the Marine Department to remind the public not to use their boats in the hopes of seeing the whale.
“It is worrying to see pictures showing what looked like wounds on the back of the whale that were suspected to have been caused by propellers,” Chan says.
“As marine experts have pointed out, whales are sensitive creatures and can be easily affected by such external factors as human interference and noise. More importantly, all of us have the responsibility to protect and care for the whale.”