A pilot whale was spotted yesterday morning (13th January 2015) at about 10 am off Tsim Sha Tsui between the Ocean Terminal and the busy China Ferry Terminal. Unnamed experts identified the apparently 3-m long whale as short-finned piloit whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus), which can grow to 6.5 m in length (figure quoted by The Standard) – but you will find estimates of up to 7.3 m in the literature. That would make this whale a juvenile or young adult. It lingered there for approximately 3 hours before dissapearing again.
Short-finned pilot whales are rarely seen on their own and tend to appear in groups of 10 – 30 sometimes up to 50 individuals and prefer deep-water. A juvenile lone short-finned pilot whale in Hong Kong’s shallow waters is therefore sadly no cause for cheer – more of a sign of being lost, injured or sick. The video footage (below) seems to show some surficial insuries to both sides of the head as well as the lower frontal edge of the dorsal fin.
You can see more footage in the article from Apple Daily’s local news site.
Some readers may remember a similar-looking species of whale – the false killer whale – showing up at about the same time of the year in 2014 near Kwai Tsing Container Terminal. In that instance it was a group of possibly up to 100 individuals which later on left Hong Kong waters again. There is some video footage of that event I posted here.