Whale shark found dead off Cheung Chau

A whale shark carcass was discovered stranded in the waters off Cheung Chau last Monday.

Concerned about the finding, the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation (OPCFHK), the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) and the Marine Police all came together to conduct an on-site inspection. Due to the poor condition the carcass was found in, a necropsy was not performed - instead skin, fat and muscle samples were taken for investigation.

According to OPCFHK, findings from the inspection showed that "the carcass belonged to a whale shark, distinctive from its spots, stripes and body shape".

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The whale shark is the largest fish on Earth. It travels long distances and can be found in tropical and warm temperate waters.

Sightings of whale sharks have been staggered over the years, the most common sightings in Hong Kong being between June and July in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2015.

The measured carcass was said to be more than four metres, almost matching the most recent record of a juvenile shark about five metres long last month found in Tung Chung Island, Sai Kung.

What many people don't realise is that the whale shark is listed as 'Vulnerable' on the IUCN Rest List of Threatened Species, with its main threat of extinction being caused by fisheries.

OPCFHK Assistant Manager of Scientific Projects Shadow Sin said people should keep their distance if they see a whale shark.

"We don't usually see whale sharks in Hong Kong, so if you are lucky enough to see one, please appreciate it at a distance", she said.

She said shark fin and liver oil should be taken out of diets in consideration of its threatened conservation status.

Whale Shark 1

Whale Shark 2

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