Dugong in Hong Kong

Submitted by Richard Muirhead on Sat, 11/08/2014 - 04:44

Does anyone have any memories or observations of dugongs or mermaid folklore in Hong Kong and has anyone ever written up a comprehensive history of the 1993 Mermaid rumour in Hong Kong? Dugongs are now very rare indeed or extinct in the Pearl River Estuary.

I have an account of a 1940 Dugong/sea cow seen off Lantau and I`ve also heard of a mystery animal called the Lutung or Luting fish whose identity I would like to know.


Richard Muirhead


Submitted by on
Sat, 11/08/2014 - 09:37

Hi Richard,

I can contribute nothing about dugong, but I have heard of Luting (盧亭) before.  In Chinese sources written two hundred to four hundred years ago, Lutings are described as semi-human sea creatures.  Lutings were said to be descendants of a rebellious force led by LU Xun (盧循) (? - 411), and were considered by some to be the ancestors of the Tanka (蜑家) people -- one of the four main groups of people of pre-British Hong Kong who used to live on boats.

Some Chinese sources:

Origins of the Tanka people:  http://www.sanyau.edu.cn/plus/view.php?aid=232

Chinese Wikipedia page on Luting:  http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%9B%A7%E4%BA%AD

Reference to journal article on Luting: http://libdigital.umac.mo/was5/digital/moinchipaView.jsp?id=15717

Hi Richard,

We are a Theatre Company in Hong Kong.Recently,we are producing a theatre piece base on the story of Luting.The name of our production is "The Lu-Tings"

Here is the link of our play:https://www.facebook.com/events/1569987786556236/

Come to see it if you have time and you may find some useful informations about Luting.



Hi Chan, I`d love to see your play but I live in the U.K. now and cannot afford to go to Hong Kong.

Do you have a programme in English or any other information you can send me? 

I can give you my e-mail and postal address.



Hi Richard

I assume you already have the 1993 SCMP article. I have no further info, but have a HK marine bio blog and would ko move to know what your research turns up. Would you consider writing a piece for the blog on the dugongs? Fully accredited to you of course. The blog is at HKmarinelife.hk . There is a post on saltwater crocodiles in HK there which might be of interest (possibly).

Actualy I don`t think I have the 1993 article.Do you have a copy you could send me?

I have a 1914 HK newspaper article about seals in HK waters(not part of a zoo`s collection) - are you interested?

Do you or any friends have stories of any other strange HK marine or land fauna?