All posts by hkmarinelife

I am a ex marine biologist now working for a garment company but am still passionate about marine biology and oceanography. I studied Marine Science and completed a PhD in Antarctic deep-sea ecology and biodiversity including two expeditions to the Antarctic and one to the Artic. I fell in love with HK's rich marine environment when I was a child and I have seen it change seomtimes for the better, but also for the worse since my childhood. This blog is my collection of interesting facts, news and articles that celebrate and educate on HK's diverse marine environment.

New Acoustic Monitoring Programme for Dolphins

According to a Marine Department notice, acoustic monitoring stations will be temporarily established on the seabed at Lung Kwu Tan (NW New Territories near Tuen Mun) and Siu Ho Wan (N. Lantau) for the next 9 months.

The acoustic monitoring stations will collect data on dolphin vocalisations in the area. They are structures of pyramid shape with a height of about 0.8 m and a square base of 1 x 1 m. Its bottom will be embedded in the seabed.

Regular diving operations for inspecting and retrieving data from the acoustic monitors will be carried out by a work boat in the above locations every month.

Source: Government of Hong Kong SAR Marine Department Notice No.12 of 2016 dated 22 January 2016

Young Dolphin in Tuen Mun Marina

A young pantropical spotted dolphin was seen swimming in the Gold Coast Marina in Tuen Mun. The dolphin is estimated to be about 1 m in length, has apparently been in the area for over a day, with Apple Daily reporting that it had been stuck for 27 hours at around 2pm yesterday (27/1/16).
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) was then notified, and sent three officers to observe the situation.

While Apple Daily maintains that the young cetacean is trapped by the boats in the harbour, President of the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society, Hung Ka-yiu, told Hong Kong Animal Post that he believes the dolphin was simply lost and would not require human assistance at the moment.

Hung identified the dolphin as a young pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata), a species often seen in Taiwan, but not common in Hong Kong’s waters, and the second most abundant dolphin species in the world. Hung also theorised that the dolphin was only in Hong Kong by mistake, and said he hoped it would eventually find its way back out to the ocean.

The AFCD said it would discuss future measures with dolphin experts at Ocean Park, and reminded yachtowners not to disturb the animal.

Juvenile Green Sea a Turtle Found Dead off Pui O

On Saturday (9/1/2016) morning, a dead juvenile green turtle was found dead and entangled in a fishing net near Pui O Wan on the south of Lantau Island.
The turtle was not yet mature, and its shell measured about 60 cm in length. A necropsy performed by the agriculture, fisheries and conservation department (AFCD) found nothing abnormal. Officials were unable to determine the animal’s sex.

Iain Brymer, a 49-year-old Expat found the dead turtle near a rocky shore about a kilometre into paddling his outrigger canoe from Pui O Wan to Chi Ma Wan Peninsula.

Dead Finless Porpoise Off Shek O

A locally-rare finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides) was found dead in the waters off Shek O, last week (19th November 2015). 

The adult female finless porpoise was discovered on Wednesday at Tai Long Pai, bringing the total number of cetacean strandings this year up to 35. It measured 162 centimetres in length and was already severely decomposed. Dissection revealed a fishing rod in its stomach, but the cause of death is still unknown.

Marine Police received information that the corpse of a finless porpoise had been spotted floating near Shek O. The porpoise was then collected and brought to Marine Police Regional Headquarters at Sai Wan Ho, where Ocean Park Conservation Foundation’s Cetacean Stranding Response Team took on the cadaver for autopsy.

Elsewhere in China the Global Times reports another finless porpoise washed up dead in Poyang Lake in Jiangxi Province. Poyang Lake is a freshwater lake which along with the Dongting Lake is host to an estimated 500 finless porpoises. This stranding brings the total for Poyang Lake for 2015 to 5.

Dead Green Turtle Found with Plastic in Stomach

A green turtle (Chelonia mydas) was found dead in Sai Kung over the weekend, apparently after ingesting too much trash.
Click here for the Coastal Watch HK Facebook page with images of the turtle.

On Saturday (24 Oct), the lifeless body of a green turtle was spotted on a beach at Pak Lap village, Ming Pao Daily reported.

The turtle’s body was said to have been dragged by stray dogs and its stomach mauled. An examination revealed that the stomach was full of litter.

The trash found inside the turtle, which was about 40-50 centimeters long, included nylon string and plastic bags.

It was the first time that evidence has been found in Hong Kong of green turtles consuming marine litter the report cited the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as saying.

After looking at the pictures of the turtle’s body, Chong Dee-hwa, the founder of the Hong Kong Ichthyological Society, believes the green turtle was a female aged around 10 years.

Patrick Yeung, project manager of the Coastal Watch Project under the WWF, said the case can be taken as evidence that sea turtles in Hong Kong are eating a lot of trash, which is a worrying situation.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department was quoted as saying that it has been informed about the case and that it will send an officer to look into the matter.

The green turtle is a protected species in Hong Kong. The beach area in Sham Wan on Lamma Island and nearby shallow waters is one of the last nesting sites of the highly endangered green turtles of southern China.

Since 1999, the area was being closed to the public from June to October every year to enable the turtles to carry out their nesting activities.

Mangrove Horseshoe Crabs Return to Hong Kong Island

According to the Facebook page of the HK Juvenile Horseshoe Crab Rearing Programme, juvenile mangrove horseshoe crabs (Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda) were found at Tai Tam during this years HK Bioblitz programme. It is the First record of this species after many years of absence.

A BioBlitz is an intense period of biological surveying in an attempt to record all the living species within a designated area. Groups of scientists, naturalists and volunteers conduct an intensive field study over a continuous time period (e.g., usually 24 hours). This years HK BioBlitz was held at Tai Tam.

Chinese White Dolphin spotted in Pearl River near Guangzhou

As reported by several news outlets this week, a Chinese White Dolphin (Sousa chinensis) – aluas Indopacific Humpback Dolphin or ‘pink dolphin’ – was spotted near Guangzhou in the Pearl River on Wednesday the 21st of October. This drew some crowds as the dolphin stayed for about an hour. Conservation staff later used sonar equipment to try to herd it back out towards the sea -apparently with some success.

  
This story is however quite hyped-up, because these dolphins live near estuaries and previous studies have shown they move further into the estuary in the dry winter months when less freshwater is flushed into the sea by the Pearl River. In summer when the heavy rains come and the river swells the dolphins range extends further out. This is likely because they are following fish stocks that themselves track a line of salinity which mobmves in and out of the estuary with the seasons. Some fish like the flathead mullet (Mugil cephalus) commonly sold in fish markets also move in and out of fresh and seawater depending on their stage in life.

Speaking of which, I saw another prize catch of a mullet on the central waterfront yesterday. It’s a bigger fish than I have seen in any market at about 40 cm and probably 2+ kg – it drew a small crowd and plenty of mobile phone cameras. congratulations to the lucky angler!