A giant trevally in the Shilang Diving Area near Green Island (綠島) has won the hearts of divers, with local diving businesses and residents calling on visitors not to harm the fish and to protect the area’s latest maritime star.

The Shilang Diving Area in May last year unveiled the world’s deepest underwater mailbox and the 1m-long giant trevally — nicknamed 小牛, or “little cow” — was spotted near the mailbox this summer.

It quickly rose to fame due to its size and friendly nature, as it often approached divers in the area.

The giant trevally could generate more tourism revenue as it has attracted widespread public attention, local residents and diving businesses said, adding that they hoped it would live a long and prosperous life in the area.

The nickname “little cow” comes from a comparison made with a 2m-long giant trevally nicknamed 大牛, or “big cow,” which was spotted in Pingtung County’s Kenting (墾丁) two years ago.

“Big cattle” attracted 10,000 divers, generated NT$25 million (US$820,237 at the current exchange rate) in tourism revenue and created 150 jobs before its unfortunate death as a result of illegal recreational fishing in the area, divers said, adding that they hoped the tragedy would not repeat itself near Green Island.

Before the giant trevally, the Shilang Diving Area’s biggest attraction was a humphead wrasse — also known as a Napoleon fish — which was 1.2m-long and weighed about 53kg.

The humphead wrasse was killed in 2016 by local bed-and-breakfast operator Chen Ming-hsien (陳明憲), who was sentenced six months in prison and fined NT$300,000 for killing the endangered species with a harpoon.