Hundreds of dead and rotting fish that washed up on a beach have caused a stink for Lamma Island villagers - and experts say fish farms are probably to blame.
Villagers woke on Monday to find the narrow beach at Mo Tat Wan strewn with the carcasses of large fish. Scores more decaying fish were to be seen floating by the village pier.
Residents were stunned by the quantity of fish, which measured up to two feet and were identified by experts as sea bass, cobia and croaker - species common in Hong Kong fish farms. They said the smell of the decaying fish had engulfed the entire village.
One resident, who asked not to be named, described seeing "bloated, rotting carcasses" on the beach, along with the "usual piles of litter".
"The beach was littered with dead fish, with even more dead fish floating in the water near the pier," she said. "It's sad. It appears the Lamma channel gets used as a dumping ground for lots of things, a great deal of which gets washed up at Mo Tat Wan. Nothing ever seems to be done about it."
Another Lamma Island resident, James Burden, said: "You get dead fish on the beach from time to time, but I've never seen them in this quantity."
Kenneth Leung Mei-yee, professor of aquatic ecology and toxicology at the University of Hong Kong, said it was common for fish to die in farms in the winter season as they were susceptible to the cold but it was unclear whether the fish, some of which he identified as sea bass, had been dumped from farms in Hong Kong or on the mainland.
"Because there is a large number of the same kind of fish, all around the same size, it is very likely they have been dumped by fish farms," he said.
The incident did not appear to be linked to last month's incident where contaminated horse feed from the Hong Kong Jockey Club was mistakenly given to hundreds of thousands of freshwater fish in the New Territories.
Dr Andy Cornish, former conservation director of WWF Hong Kong, also suspected the fish had been dumped by fish farms after possibly being killed by a sharp temperature drop.
The carcasses were removed by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.
Video: Hundreds of dead fish beached on Lamma Island