Taipo Whale Identified as Recently Discovered Omura’s Whale

A dead ten-metre whale that washed up near Tai Po in March has been identified as an Omura’s Whale specimen (also known as dwarf fin whale), a species that science knows very little about, reports Apple Daily.
In fact, until this discovery, only nine whales have been genetically confirmed to be of the Omura’s Whale species, which was discovered only in 2003.
Over the past nine months, researchers at CityU have been preparing the whale’s bones to be put on display on their campus. But due to the size of the carcass – it weighed 25 tons when it was first found – the process is still ongoing.
The backbreaking work includes soaking the bones for months and boiling them over 20 times.
CityU is planning on displaying the entire five-ton skeleton in front of its library.

Source: Apple Daily via Coconuts HK 23/12/2014

Featured image: Ocean Park Conservation Fund

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Pygmy Sperm Whale Stranding near Sha Tau Kok

A 3.3 m long, 386 kg whale was found by hikers on Friday (26th September 2014) on the rocky shoreline at Fung Hang village near Sha Tau Kok (NE New Territories). Due to the remote location of the site, AFCD staff decided to suspend the investigation, as night fell. Officers tied the dead whale with a rope to fix it on the beach and prevent it from drifting away during the rising tide. Experts joined the investigation the following day to identify the dead whale species and the cause of death.

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Images by Ocean Park Conservation Fund. 9/2014.

The whale did not have any obvious fatal wounds or signs of infection, but had begun to rot and some of the gray-black skin was peeing off.
A preliminary veterinary inspection suggests that it is a pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps).

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The Pygmy Sperm Whale

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Drawing showing relative size of a Pygmy Sperm Whale and a human

This species is normally found in deep waters several hundred to a thousand meters deep such as off Taiwan’s east coast. Hong Kong waters are only tens of meters deep, so pygmy sperm whales generally do not live or pass through Hong Kong. Most likely the whale got lost or was already dying while passing by Hong Kong waters and then drifted in to shore.

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Image: News163.com

Skin , teeth, subcutaneous fat , heart, reproductive system and muscle samples were taken for further testing and City University of Hong Kong will receive the whale carcasses to produce bone specimens.

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Map by Mingpao Daily.

A Stranded Whale near Hong Kong, Supertyphoon Rammasun And Photoshopped Soldiers

A three-meter whale weighing four tons was stranded on a beach in the city of Yangjiang (about 230 km west of Hong Kong), in Guangdong province, on July 19, 2014. Local police officers and soldiers helped the whale back into the waters after it was washed ashore by waves during super typhoon Rammasun which hit Southern China. It was the strongest typhoon to hit the region in four decades, and brought gales and downpours.

The 3-m stranded whale at Yangjiang, Guandong Province. [Photo/IC]
Some media outlets (West Palm Beach TV , NBC Netwwork) initially reported it as a “killer whale” (Orcinus orca), but it is actually  a juvenile baleen whale – either a Fin, Bryde’s or Sei Whale (the pictures unfortunately don’t show enough details). China Daily also praises the police and soldiers for rescuing the animal, but the pictures show quite clearly that most of the manpower actually came from life guards.

Click here for the CCTV News video report

As the smallest baleen whales can be ruled out, the size of the individual means its a juvenile, perhaps even recently born. Although the efforts to save the whale are admirable, I suspect that separated from its mother and her milk this calf will highly likely die soon.

image: CCTV News
image: CCTV News
image: CCTV News
image: CCTV News
image: CCTV News
image: CCTV News
image: CCTV News
image: CCTV News

CCTV also included an image, not seen elsewhere on the web, showing soldiers rescuing the whale, although the image looks quite photoshopped and the weather seems much brighter in that one image….quite why anyone has to manipulate the image here I can’t understand, there is no political connotation here that I can recognize…

The most pointless photoshopping image ever. Suddenly the weather is brighter and the sldiers somehow stand out from the image more clearly. But whats the point?
The most pointless photoshopping image ever. Suddenly the weather is brighter and the soldiers somehow stand out from the image more clearly. But whats the point?

(Source: China Daily, 20/7/2014, and CNTV 20/7/2014)

Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society’s 10 year Anniversary Exhibition

To commemorate their 10th anniversary HKDCS HAS organised the “Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society 10th Anniversary Exhibition” with the MAC Gallery. The exhibition will feature more than 100 paintings from children, including the themes “dolphin habits”, “Dolphin House” and “My threats”.
Details in the below poster.

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Hong Kong – San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival 2014

The 3rd Annual HK-SF Int’l Ocean Film Festival will have a warm-up event on April 29th at iSquare in Tsim Sha Tsui, with the main events to be held from May 6th – May 11th. Among several films shown will be the film Blackfish about Orcas in captivity, as well as a 3 min short about the beauty of Hoi Ha Wan where one of HK’s marine parks is.

Film List & Summary here

False Killer Whales Visit Hong Kong

SCMP – 15th Feb 2014:

The cold weather might be putting you off going out, let along going for a dip. But Hong Kong’s unusually chilly waters didn’t put off one unusual group of visitors.

A pod of about 100 false killer whales has been in local waters over the past two days, in what is thought to be the first mass sighting of the marine mammal in Hong Kong.

The animals were first spotted and videoed by crane operators at the Kwai Tsing container terminal as they made their way through Rambler Channel at about 3pm on Thursday.

At about 5.30pm, they were spotted by dolphin researchers heading from Ma Wan and the Brothers islands, north of Lantau. They were seen chasing fish, leaping out of the water and swimming next to ships.

They are believed to have left Hong Kong waters yesterday, according to the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society, which tracked the animals and released two pictures of them.

The creatures are widely found in tropical and temperate waters, but rarely seen in Hong Kong, especially in groups.

In 2002, an attempt to rescue a false killer whale found stranded at Tai Long Sai Wan failed. False killer whales were found dead in 1983 at Tai Lam Chung, near Tuen Mun; in 2000 at Lantau; and at Sai Kung in 2005.

While they are known as false killer whales, the creatures, a member of the dolphin family, bear little resemblance to the orca except in the shape of their head and teeth. A mature false killer whale can be up to six metres long. Pods usually have between 30 and 50 members.

Dr Samuel Hung Ka-yiu, chairman of the society, said researchers found the sight of the pod deeply impressive. “If you looked around, they were everywhere. It was spectacular view.”

Hung said it was not possible to speculate why the false killer whales were in Hong Kong or whether it could be down to this week’s cold snap.

“I can’t really think why [they were here]. But the group looked healthy and relaxed as they chased fish. They definitely did not get lost and they weren’t in a distressed state,” he said.

While visits by whales and dolphins – apart from local populations – are rare, a few unexpected visitors have turned up. A humpback whale was spotted in Victoria Harbour in 2009, while there was a suspected whale sighting off Pok Fu Lam in 2011.

The visits have been hailed a positive side-effect of work to clean up local waters.

Whale Carcass Stranded near Taipo

 

The bloated carcass of a whale the length of a bus has been found at a remote beach in the New Territories’ northeastern tip.

The 10.8-metre-long animal, found beached in an inner bay off Hung Shek Mun, in Plover Cove Country Park, was thought to be a female Bryde’s whale.

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When marine experts arrived yesterday morning, the rotting carcass was lying partially submerged in the shallow water, giving off a stench. It had a number of cuts on its body.

About 10 government and Ocean Park experts in protective gear were still inspecting the dead whale early yesterday evening. Police said a hiker had reported seeing a “huge fish” floating off Hung Shek Mun on Saturday evening.

“It looks like a Bryde’s whale,” Dolphin Conservation Society chairman Samuel Hung Ka-yiu said after seeing footage and pictures of the animal on the news. “It could have died at sea and then drifted in.”

Hung said it could have been dead for a couple of days since the carcass was bloated.

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The authorities have yet to decide how to dispose of the dead whale. One option would be to cut up its carcass and remove it piece by piece.

Bryde’s whales, which can grow up to about 15 metres and weigh up to 40 tonnes, prefer warmer waters. Males are usually slightly smaller than females.

In 2009, a 10-metre-long humpback whale was spotted in Hong Kong waters. It was believed to be the first sighting of the species in the city. Experts believed the animal accidentally entered Hong Kong harbour after getting lost.

In 2003, a sperm whale was found washed up at Tai Long Wan in Sai Kung. The 10-metre-long creature was about two years old and weighed 15 tonnes.

In 1994, the carcass of a Bryde’s whale was found in Tolo Harbour.

On the 12th of April 1955, a 9m long juvenile male finback whale (Balaenoptera physalus) was found dying in Victoria Harbour. It was subsequently humanely killed and towed to Aberdeen where it was cut into pieces. The meat was given to refugees while the skeleton was stripped of flesh and dried. Later it was put together and mounted at HKU. Because of damage to the skeleton, the mounting was refurbished in the 1990’s and the skeleton is now on display in front of the main building of the Swire Institute of Marine Science at Cape D’Aguilar.

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The juvenile finback whale found in Victoria Harbor in 1955 now mounted outsie the SWIMS bulding in Cape D’Aguilar.

Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society has compiled an exhaustive and informative list of cetacean strandings available online.

SCMP article
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