Marine police on Saturday (7th May 2016) searching for a shark in Silvermine Bay after a beach-goer reported that he might have seen a shark outside the shark net. The life guards raised the red flag and a police launch and government flying service helicopter were dispatched. But witnesses interviewed by Apple Daily also suggested it may have swum more like a dolphin than a shark. Apple Daily posted a video on their site here. You can see the “shark” at the 1:00 minute mark. It’s definitely a dolphin.
On the 9th of October 1932: a 6 foot 6 inch, 186 lbs black-tip reef shark (Carcharinus melanopterus) was caught by fishermen off th Kowloon Docks (between present day Hung Hom and the Laguna Verde residential blocks). It was caught on a hand line made of hemp with a half-pound snapper as bait on a large iron hook. The fisherman was definitely trying to catch a shark and had a large bait and strong tackle on purpose. The sea was choppy, a fresh N.E. wind was blowing and few small fish were about. The previous week a number of shark were about off Kowloon Docks and on 25th September […] at least 50 snapper were lost through sharks taking them before they had been pulled up to the surface. This particular fish was played 20 minutes, pulled in to within 2 feet of the surface and then harpooned. It was not pulled on board but was lashed to the side of the sam pan. Market value about $7.00 – roughly equal to HKD 2,280 today. Stunning to think that shark was abundant enough locally to cost that little: a whole 6-foot, 84.3 kg black-tip reef shark for only HKD 2,280! Compare this with a recently quoted wholesale price for 1 kg of shark’s fin in Guangzhou (roughly comparable to the shark discussed here) of USD 960 or HKD 7,480! Why the difference? Rarity. Sharks have become so rare, that the prices are soaring and they face more and more risk of extinction from over fishing.
The decomposing body of a whale shark, a rare species in local waters, was found off the coast of Cheung Chau. The five-metre creature was spotted about 50 metres off the island by Cheung Chau resident Dan Carew. He reported the sighting to the police shortly before 7pm yesterday (31st August 2015).
The marine police later located the decomposing body near a coastal area off Cheung Chau Peak Road West. Carew told the media he saw the shark floating off the sea at sunset and immediately left his home to check it. It was later washed closer to the coast. Carew said there was a nylon rope around its tail. After studying the pictures and a video provided by Carew, the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation said it was a whale shark, characterised by its square head and pectoral fins.
A spokeswoman said the foundation could not tell how it died and would try to learn more from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. He said the largest known extant fish species was rare in local waters, although there had been occasional sightings.
Skin, fat and muscle samples were collected but a necropsy could not be made because of the poor condition of the carcass and the environmental restrictions on- site. AFCD has arranged carcass disposal.
On this day 85 years (1930) the Hong Kong Telegraph reported the capture of a large shark off Tai Po:
The naturalist G.A.C Herklots, identified it as Eulamia melanopterus (now Carcharinus melanopterus) – the black-tipped reef shark and reported it to be 7 feet (2.1 m) in length. He published the image of the shark featured in this blog post in the Hong Kong Naturalist.
The other shark incident mentioned in the Telegraph involved a fisherman being bitten by a shark on June 10th of 1930. The South China Morning Post (SCMP, June 10th 1930) reported:
A fisherman called Ho Sang was admitted into the Kwohg Wah
Hospital at Yaumati [Yau Ma Tei] on June 8th with severe injuries to his right arm. His uncle related the following incident. When fishing in their boat off Pak Sha O, near Tai Po, the younger man, Ho Sang, hooked a shark. He succeeded in raising it to the surface and was hauling it into the boat when the fish seized his right arm injuring it severely. No details are given as to the size of the shark or what happened to it after its attack on the fisherman.
On Thursday (15th August 2014) red and shark flags were hoisted at two beaches on Lamma Island after a swimmer found a suspected baby shark that was about 50cm long at Hung Shing Yeh Beach. The flags were hoisted at Lo So Shing Beach as well due to its proximity to the location of the sighting. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department later identified the shark to be a spadenose shark (Scoliodon laticaudus).
In a stunning display of massive overreaction, the Government Flying Service and the Marine Police to swept the area for any large fish or sharks, finding nothing, while a LCSD sonar search also found no sharks. The shark net was inspected and was found to be in good condition.
The two beaches will remain temporarily closed for safety reasons, while all other LCSD beaches and water sports centres have “enhanced vigilance”.
As reported by news163.com on Friday the 1st of August 2014 a fisherman in Xiangzhi, Fujian province captured a 4.5-meter-long, two-ton whale shark that died soon after its struggle to escape.
The fisherman, Cai Chengzhu, said that as he and his colleagues began to pull their net out from the water, when they spotted a huge hole formed by the “giant fish”. “It’s believed that the giant animal broke the net and got inside to eat the fish we caught,” he said.
Note: the whale shark is the biggest fish in the world, but it’s not a predator and it consumes only microscopic plankton, not large fish as Mr. Cai seems to think.
According to commentary by Coconuts Hong Kong, “plankton flourishes in clean water, the presence of whale sharks is a sign of a healthy ocean area.” As a marine biologist I can pretty safely say that this statement is absolute BS (bovine faeces). Filthy water also has plankton…frequently huge amounts for example toxic algal blooms, jellyfish swarms – their all plankton, too.
The fishery department identified the whale shark, a second-class national protected animal. Regulation states that whale sharks should be set free right away if caught by fishermen. However, Cai transported the whale shark to land with a tractor. He reportedly planned to sell it for 10,000 to 20,000 yuan (about HKD 12,500 – 25,000 or USD 1,600 – 3,200) before he knew what the animal was. It’s illegal to buy or sell whale sharks, the largest known extant fish species. They can live as long as 70 years to 100 years. Whale sharks are classified as vulnerable by the WWF, and threatened by unregulated fishing for their fins and oil.
Cai Chengzu said that he originally decided to bring it to market, where he planned on selling it … but officials from the Fujian fisheries department refused to allow the sale of the endangered species. However, Chengzu seems to have sidestepped the ban for a curbside fire sale of shark meat, according to photos published by Shanghaiist. The fisherman butchered and auctioned the whale shark off at charity prices because “threatened species” laws are apparently about as enforced as “no-smoking” ones in China. This highlights once again the great need for more environmental education in China.
Fortunately, despite this particular story, the global shark fin trade is on the decline. However, the statement from the Shanghaiist, that “various shark’s species are staging a comeback, thanks in part to Xi Jinping’s anti-extravagance campaign” is once again utter BS. A decline in the rate of killing of sharks does not in any logical way equate to a “comeback” – especially not in the space of one year. This is simply wishful thinking! It will take many years for shark species to recover to anything like their former populations from decades of global exploitation.