Sharks in Hong Hong

Hong Kong was the world’s shark attack capital in the early 90s

Between 1991 and 1995 the sharks in Hong Kong were the most dangerous in the world. Ten people were killed or went missing in the sea around Sai Kung in eastern Kowloon, and the fear of a large, man-eating shark was real.

The city was stunned by the last three attacks in 1995 that happened quickly over a 14-day period. Sharks are rea and some dangerousl – unlike vampires or zombies.

Shark attacks in 1991

June 7

A 65-year-old woman decided to swim at Silverstrand Beach in Sai Kung, not knowing this swim would be her last. Between 6 am and 7:20 am she was attacked, a shark ripping into her abdomen and biting off her leg. Authorities believed the shark to be a large one, maybe a tiger shark.

Tiger shark - Sharks in Hong Kong
Tiger shark – Sharks in Hong Kong

June 28

A local fisherman has his arm bitten off by a shark in Hong Kong’s Sai Kung region. Little information is available regarding this attack.

June 29

The death toll rises as a 22-year-old man is attacked and killed near the uninhabited and remote Basalt Island.

Officials didn’t act but a local newspaper paid famed shark slayer Vic Hislop to come to Hong Kong to hunt the shark. “There is no such thing as a full shark. So better to kill it before it kills you,” was Hislop’s motto. Alas, the valiant shark slayer was not successful when it came to the sharks of Hong Kong. In the debacle that followed, he saw no sharks, caught food poisoning, and returned home with his tail between his legs.

Shark attacks in 1993

May 1993

A woman goes missing from Silverstrand Beach. Her body is never recovered. Officials believe she was a victim of the sharks in Hong Kong.

June 1, 1993

A man is killed by a shark when his leg and part of his buttocks is bitten off. The 42-year-old was swimming at Sheung Sze Wan near Sliverstrand Beach.

June 12, 1993

A 61-year-old scoffed at the shark warning and entered the waters at Sliverstrand. In a savage attack, his arm and leg were bitten off by the sharks in Hong Kong.

Shark in Hong Kong attacks in 1994

Early 1994

In an attack without a date, a woman playing beach volleyball was attacked by what witnesses said was a massive five to seven-meter long shark. No, the shark didn’t jump onto the beach, this isn’t Hollywood. The woman probably entered the water for a swim to cool off.

June 1, 1995

A 44-year-old former competitive swimmer and PE teacher was attacked and killed while scuba diving near Silverstrand beach. Sadly, he was found by a friend, with his leg bitten off.

June 2, 1994

Beacher goers witness a two-meter shark and a 29-year-old man screaming for help before he is pulled underwater while swimming at Sheung Sze Wan. The man’s upper thigh has been ravaged by a shark. He managed to live several days before dying from his wound. He too had ignored the shark warnings, as well as the deadly attack of the day before.

June 13, 1995

In the final recorded shark attack in Hong Kong, a 45-year-old female swimmer in Clearwater Bay has her arm and leg bitten off. A tiger shark is blamed for the fatality.

Hong Kong Government Response

In response to the attacks, the government started to install shark nets at all official beaches. Since the final attack on June 13, 1995, Hong Kong has witnessed no further fatal shark attacks.

What happened?

There are theories about what happened between 1991 and 1995. Perhaps, a lone man-eating shark was stalking Hong Kong, or maybe a group of smaller sharks. No real research was done by the government or scientists on the attacks, so we are left with only theories.

Sharks in Hong Kong

Sharks are not uncommon in Hong Kong. The warmer water in the summer attracts different shark species.

The shark (or sharks) suspected in the 91-95 attacks were identified as tiger sharks.  Growing up to 5 meters in length, tiger sharks will eat anything: Fish, seals, birds, squid, turtles, sea snakes, dolphins, and even other smaller sharks. They have a reputation for being highly dangerous – coming second to great white sharks in the number of attacks on people. Although they are fearsome predators if many more die they will be considered an endangered species. In comparison, the whale shark is the largest species of shark but is completely harmless to people.

 Hong Kong Shark Foundation is a charity working for shark conservation. They want to raise awareness about shark conservation, particularly the practice of shark finning, and to help reduce the demand and consumption of shark products in Hong Kong. The  Hong Kong Shark Foundation is fighting a difficult batter – shark fin is considered a delicacy and served at many functions such as weddings. Shark fins are popular in southeast Asian cuisine. Trade in fins is still quite prominent.

Sharks are seen frequently by fishermen and government helicopters, even great white sharks. There are videos on YouTube of “big fish” witnessed from Hong Kong beaches in the last few years.

Spadenose Shark
Spadenose Shark

In June of 2020, four friends spotted 3 or 4 sharks while swimming in Emerald Bay. It was determined they were spadenose sharks – not dangerous to humans.

What do you think? Are you afraid to swim in the ocean because of sharks? Do you fear the Hong Kong Sharks?

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