Dead baby shark prompts warning

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 31 August, 2007, 12:00am

The government has shut two water sports centres and warned swimmers and other leisure seekers to stay out of the water at Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park after a small shark was found dead after being trapped in a fisherman's net off Sai Kung.

The action comes despite an expert saying the blacktip shark, at a metre long and weighing 7.3kg, was harmless and there was 'zero chance' of one biting humans. The species had no history of attacking people, Charles Frew said.

The species feeds mainly on small fish, crustaceans and crabs, he said.

The shark was trapped by a man fishing near the WWF Marine Life Centre at Hoi Ha Wan yesterday morning. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said the shark was a juvenile male.

Mr Frew, of marine services company Asiatic Marine, said the species was common in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, but he had not come across them in local waters. 'I cannot say it's uncommon, [but] we don't have a record [of any] here.'

About 20 sightings of small sharks have been reported to the department since early last month, prompting it to order the temporary closure of some beaches and to warn the public to keep out of waters near the sightings.

On July 11, a small shark was found dead on Stanley Main Beach but was too decayed for the species to be identified. The government said it was a member of a family of shark species with a history of attacking humans, but an expert from Ocean Park said few sharks in the family, other than the tiger shark and the great white, were dangerous.

Mr Frew said he was 'very upset' to see the dead shark at Hoi Ha Wan.

'It's killed by drowning, because sharks have to keep moving to breathe. It's a slow and painful death,' he said.

He said the department should not allow fishing in the park.

The department would close the Jockey Club Wong Shek Water Sports Centre and Tai Mei Tuk Water Sports Centre from today.