Whale 'will free itself'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 March, 2009, 12:00am

The best course of action to help the humpback whale stranded in the Cape D'Aguilar Marine Reserve is to do nothing at all, experts say; its natural instincts will eventually steer it back into open waters.

The 10-metre adult whale, first spotted early this week, was either unwilling to leave or was still confused about which direction to go, said Samuel Hung Ka-yiu, the director of the Hong Kong Cetacean Research Project, a government-funded consultancy that monitors dolphins and porpoises.

'We have talked to some overseas experts about how to help the whale. They all believe that we should not meddle in its movement. It needs to find its way out with its own natural instinct,' Dr Hung said.

'In previous cases, people tried to create noises in an attempt to get strayed whales to another place. But this usually does not work, and might even lead the creature to injure itself.'

The humpback whale, a species never before reported in Hong Kong waters, was first spotted in the East Lamma Channel on Monday.

Mr Hung said the whale appeared more lively yesterday morning as there were fewer vessels around it, after the government urged the public to leave the creature alone. Such crowds stress and confuse whales, experts say.

'It came to the water surface to breathe every six to seven minutes this morning, more frequently than on Thursday,' Dr Hung said, adding that the whale once swam very close to his vessel.

'So far, it has not suffered any injuries,' he added.

A spokeswoman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said they also spotted the whale at Cape D'Aguilar yesterday morning.

'It looks well,' she said.