The government on Monday urged people not to chase after a whale that has been spotted in southern Hong Kong waters.
This follows the death of a whale off Sai Kung in July that had cuts possibly caused by a boat propeller, leading to calls for greater protection of marine animals.
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said in a statement that authorities spotted a whale in Monday evening while patrolling the waters off Southern District before it disappeared.
The AFCD said that it has beefed up patrols in areas where whale sightings were reported, with the assistance of marine police and the Marine Department.
“Government officials on-site will instruct boats approaching the whale to leave, and enforcement actions will be taken against those who refuse to co-operate to ensure the whale will not be disturbed,” it said.
A spokesperson from the department said members of the public should keep a safe distance of at least 100 metres if they encounter any whales, or officials could take law enforcement action against offenders.
The department also said it is consulting with local and overseas experts on the whale's species, its condition as well as appropriate protection measures.