- Conservationists estimated as many as 100 of the creatures, members of the dolphin family, were in the group
- Vessel operators urged to exercise caution during rare visit to city
Conservationists urged vessel operators in Victoria Harbour to exercise caution after a large pod of false killer whales, members of the dolphin family, made a surprise visit to the city on Friday.
Viral video clips posted online showed the group swimming in the harbour at about 4pm.
Viena Mak Hei-man, spokesman for the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society, said her colleagues estimated there were as many as 100 false killer whales in the group.
Mak added that the species usually inhabit deepwater areas in temperate and tropical zones and were rarely seen in Hong Kong.
A pod of about the same number was last seen in the city in February 2014 in waters around Kwai Chung and northern Lantau Island.
"It's unexplainable (why they appeared in the harbour), but they looked healthy … They might have lost their way somehow or (ended up in Hong Kong) due to unknown factors," Mak said.
She estimated the pod could leave the harbour as soon as Friday night or perhaps in another day or so, based on the activities they had displayed. She urged vessel operators to be watchful as they crossed the harbour.
Dolphins were spotted in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour on Friday pic.twitter.com/aUByjEN65h
" SCMP Hong Kong (@SCMPHongKong) January 17, 2020
In 2002, an attempt to rescue a false killer whale found stranded at Tai Long Sai Wan failed. False killer whales were found dead in 1983 in Tai Lam Chung, near Tuen Mun; in 2000 on Lantau Island; and in Sai Kung in 2005.
Despite their name, the creatures bear little resemblance to the orca, except in the shape of their head and teeth. A mature false killer whale can be up to six metres long. Pods usually have between 30 and 50 members.
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