Rencontre rare avec un requin-baleine à Hong Kong

Requin baleine

Avec le déclin rapide de la population de dauphins roses, les nouvelles en termes de préservation de la biodiversité sont rarement bonnes à Hong Kong.

Et pourtant, jeudi après-midi, les passionnés de nature ont eu le droit a une belle surprise : un requin-baleine a été aperçu puis filmé dans les eaux hongkongaises.

La vidéo, touchante, a été mise en ligne sur Facebook par Robert Lockyer, un éco-ambassadeur de l’ONG EcoMarine, connu entre autres pour avoir alerté l’opinion publique hongkongaise sur les rejets en mer de déchets médicaux (SCMP).

Whale sharks are back in Hong Kong waters.Last major reporting of a whale shark was at ShamWan, Lamma Island, on 27th June 2012. Is this an indicator of what is to be expected this season. Encouraging fishermen and boat operators to take care. Sadly these harmless giant fish often get caught as by-catch by commercial fishing and betting operation reducing their global number and leading them to be listed as a species that is endangered of becoming extinct if greater protection wasn’t afford to them. Luckily Beijing has imposed a national fishing moratorium began from May 1 to June 30 which has been claimed to be established to relieve pressure on fisheries and to coincide with fish spawning times. All commercial fishing operations in the South China Sea will be suspended, even today we witnessed four Chinese helicopters and a small Chinese PLAN frigate “patrolling” the Chinese waters south of Hong Kong. IUCN listed as endangered, are often sighted in (or close to) Hong Kong waters from May to August by local fishermen. IUCN Endangered Listing Justification:The Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus), the world’s largest living fish, is a cosmopolitan tropical and warm temperate species. Genetic results indicate that two major subpopulations exist, in the Atlantic Ocean and Indo-Pacific, respectively.Pronounced size- and sex-based segregation is present in most of the species’ known coastal feeding areas, with coastal sites typically dominated by juvenile male sharks. The largest known aggregation sites for Whale Sharks host hundreds or low thousands of individuals, based on counts and model estimates. Although individual sharks are highly mobile, many show a degree of site fidelity.Directed fisheries and significant bycatch fisheries have targeted areas where high densities of Whale Sharks occur, leading to rapid reductions in catch per unit effort (CPUE) measures. Some bias toward juvenile Whale Shark-dominated aggregations are present in trend data; in the absence of information on other life-stages, these trends are inferred to be representative of population-level declines. While a number of commercial fisheries for the species closed during the 1990–2000s, Whale Shark products remain valuable and the species is still commonly caught in some countries. Serious injury and inferred mortality through vessel strike is a threat to several globally significant aggregations, as is bycatch in net fisheries, and the risk of ship strike. In the absence of conservation action, declines is likely to continue into the future.(Not giving further details, so don’t ask. Not my original footage.)

Posted by Robert Lockyer on Thursday, 31 May 2018

Les rencontres entre plongeurs et requins-baleines dans d’autres parties du globe ne sont certes, pas rares, mais les vidéos n’en sont pas moins saisissantes.

La dernière observation “officielle” d’un requin-baleine remonte au 27 juin 2012, à Sham Wan, une plage sur l’île de Lamma. Toutefois, des photos d’un requin-baleine, prises en 2015 par un pêcheur au large de Tung Lung Chau, circulent également sur le web.

Le requin-baleine est un poisson très impressionnant par sa taille (c’est techniquement le plus grand poisson du monde) mais il totalement inoffensif pour l’Homme.

Il est, dans nos contrées, aussi populaire en pleine mer que dans un bol de soupe, ce qui lui vaut d’être classé parmis les espèces vulnérables sur la liste rouge de l’UICN.