A beached sperm whale died on Wednesday in the waters of Guangdong province, despite a three-day rescue attempt involving staff from Hong Kong’s Ocean Park.

Mainland fishery authorities were first alerted to the whale on Sunday morning, when it was found beached near Dalajia Island off the coast of Huizhou, according to the Shenzhen Evening Post. It was trapped in a fisherman’s net.


The whale measured some 12 metres long and weighed three tonnes, but its tail had been seriously damaged. By noon on Sunday, the authorities had removed the net from its body.

On Monday, however, the whale was found beached again near the eastern coast of Shenzhen. Owing to its injuries, it was unable to return to deep waters, and showed signs of exhaustion.

The following morning, some eight staff from Hong Kong’s Ocean Park and personnel from other Guangdong universities arrived at the scene.

Natural death

Ocean Park staff assessed that the chances that the whale would survive were extremely slim. They advised authorities to either leave the whale to die a natural death, or to euthanise it. The authorities decided on the former option, while watching guard over the whale throughout the night.

“This was an especially difficult decision to make,” said deputy chief Wu Gang of the Huizhou Bureau of Ocean and Fisheries.

Daya Bay Huizhou Guangdong
Dalajia Island off the coast of Huizhou. Photo: Google Street View.

The whale was confirmed dead at 11:15am on Wednesday morning.

The Shenzhen Evening Post reported that a specimen of the whale may be displayed at the Shenzhen Museum, the first exhibit of its kind.

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.