The carcass of a finless porpoise was discovered floating near the waters off Central piers 6 and 7 on Sunday morning. The authorities were alerted and a team from the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation salvaged the body later in the day.

The mammal was found to be a 1.5-metre-long Indo-Pacific Finless Porpoise, according to reports from the South China Morning Post, and was taken away for a necropsy.

The species is listed as ‘vulnerable’ under the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or at high risk of extinction.

A collage of two images showing the carcass of a finless porpoise floating lifelessly in the waters of Victoria Harbour. The porpoise's skin is mottled red, white and brown and is on its side on the surface of the water.
The carcass of the finless porpoise found in Hong Kong on August 27 (©tripperhead via Twitter)

There are about 200 such porpoises that live in Hong Kong and the territory’s surrounding waters, according to the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation. They are most commonly seen between the south side of Lantau Island and Lamma Island.

According to the foundation, as of May 2023, there have been 17 recorded deaths of cetaceans — the scientific term for the group of marine mammals that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises — this year. This list includes three other finless porpoises.

The porpoises were all female and found between January and March 2023. The first two were discovered in the area near Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club, while the third was found at Shek Pik in Lantau Island. Investigations showed that all three porpoises died after being entangled in fishing gear.

A Bryde's whale in Hong Kong with its jaws protruding out of the water.
The Bryde’s whale that was spotted in Hong Kong between July and August 2023 (© GovHK)

Earlier this year, a Bryde’s whale was spotted in the waters off Sai Kung. News of its sighting prompted many curious about the mammal to undertake tours to get a glimpse of it.

However, the whale was subsequently found floating lifelessly near Port Shelter, and its carcass was salvaged by the authorities. It was later buried near High Island Reservoir West Dam earlier this month.

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The results of the necropsy on the whale are not yet released. But there is much speculation that it died due to human activities, especially after images surfaced showing propeller marks on the mammal’s back from previous injuries.

Header image credits: Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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