Day-trippers venture into water despite shark alerts

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2007, 12:00am

Three more metre-long sharks sighted near marine centre

Three more small sharks were sighted near the Hoi Ha Wan Marine Life Centre yesterday after sightings of two juvenile sharks in the area last week.

Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department officers saw three sharks between 90cm and 120cm long yesterday afternoon while patrolling near the popular centre in Sai Kung.

But dozens of people still flocked to the marine park's beaches in sweltering heat despite the government's shark alert.

The department stepped up patrols yesterday after coral reef specialist Paul Hodgson filmed two sharks, about 60cm to 90cm long, in Hoi Ha Wan on Friday.

Mr Hodgson believed that they were juvenile bull sharks, but the department is yet to confirm the species of the carnivorous fish.

Patrol officers put up notices advising people to stay out of the water.

But most people ignored the warnings.

Scuba diver Mr Wong said he did not fear the sharks because they were 'so small'.

'I haven't seen any sharks,' said clerk Cheung Hoi-lam, 28, who was learning to canoe about 150 metres offshore with six friends and a coach yesterday.

'I am not worried at all,' she said, adding she would return for more recreation next week.

Her coach, Mr Ho, who has more than 30 years' canoeing experience, said they would be more alert after the reports.

'I have seen sharks off Tiu Chung, Port Shelter and the East Dam of the High Island Reservoir,' he said.

'But I have never seen any in Hoi Ha Wan.'

Telecommunication technician Ng Kin-shun, 48, was with about 20 churchgoers from Tuen Mun and Yuen Long.

He said: 'We are just swimming in the shallows. It is not very risky.

'We had planned to dive to see coral but gave it up after hearing the news.'

His four-year-old daughter Gabey said: 'I am scared but my parents will look after me. Sharks will only bite the ones who are bleeding.'

Mr Hodgson said the decision to close the beach was correct and the officials had acted responsibly.

But he thought reports of sharks in the city were 'no big deal' as he saw sharks nearly every year. Store owner Mr Yung, who rents scuba diving equipment, said his takings dropped from the usual HK$3,000 to around HK$200 yesterday.

A department spokeswoman said they would not consider installing shark nets inside the Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park as there were no gazetted beaches.

All offshore activities by the Chong Hing Water Sports Centre and Jockey Club Wong Shek Water Sports Centre were suspended yesterday.

Fatal attraction

The most recent death in Hong Kong due to a shark attack was in1995