New Destructive Method Of “Salting” For Razor Clams, Damages Habitat

Recently, many people visiting the mudflats at Pak Nai and Ha Pak Nai (both in Yuen Long District) to catch razor clams have been using salt sprinkled on the mud to cuase the clams to make themselves visible. Ocean Park Conservation Fund recently did a test to show that sprinkling salt will cause the salinity to rise to unnatural levels affecting the size of sea grass, the survival of horseshoe crab eggs and may also kill any most other organism that are not adapted to surviving such sudden increases in salinity! Mudflats are critically important because of their high level of biodiversity, for example, fiddler crabs mudskippers and Black-faced Spoonbills. The shore of Pak Nai and Ha Pak Nai not only supports 60% of the estimated population of juvenile Chinese horseshoe crabs, Ha Pak Nai also has the largest sea grass bed in Hong Kong, which is classed as “vulnerable”. So please don’t use this method and do your best to protect nature!

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Source: hk.on.cc on August 23rd, 2014

Finless Porpoise Dies After Fishing Net Entaglement

A sub-adult male finless porpoise measuring 1.43 m in length was found stranded at South Channel, Tap Mun last Sunday (17th August 2014). Tap Mun (also known as Grass Island) is in the northeast New Territories close to the Hoi Ha Wan marine park. According to marine police it was found entangled in fishing nets. The presence of net entanglement, CT scan images by Ocean Park Conservation Fund and the necropsy indicate that the porpoise as a result of net entanglement and likely drowned. Vets also found multiple abscesses I. Both left and right lungs suggesting chronic pneumonia. The porpoise also had lesions and bruising that suggest struggling in a net.

Finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides) along with the Chinese White dolphins (Sousa chinensis) are the only two cetaceans resident all year round in Hong Kong waters. This is the 34th cetacean stranding in 2014. Entanglement in fishing nets is the top cause of cetacean strandings in Hong Kong.

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Source: Ocean Park Conservation Fund

Baby Shark Causes Lamma Beach Overkill Alert

On Thursday (15th August 2014) red and shark flags were hoisted at two beaches on Lamma Island after a swimmer found a suspected baby shark that was about 50cm long at Hung Shing Yeh Beach. The flags were hoisted at Lo So Shing Beach as well due to its proximity to the location of the sighting. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department later identified the shark to be a spadenose shark (Scoliodon laticaudus).
In a stunning display of massive overreaction, the Government Flying Service and the Marine Police to swept the area for any large fish or sharks, finding nothing, while a LCSD sonar search also found no sharks. The shark net was inspected and was found to be in good condition.
The two beaches will remain temporarily closed for safety reasons, while all other LCSD beaches and water sports centres have “enhanced vigilance”.

Source: Coconuts HK

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Every year the Natural History Museum in London hosts the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition and you can even vote for the People’s Choice Award on their website.
I don’t want to sway your opinion but there are two images of marine animals that also occur in Hong Kong:

‘Baracuda Swirl’ by my friend Alex Mustard (UK)

&

‘Big Mouth’ by Adriana Basques (Brazil) – a great shot of a whale shark close up.

Now, go and vote!

Huge Waterspout Off Lamma

Reports and pictures are circulating of a waterspout off Lamma yesterday at around 6:00 in the evening (12/08/2014). The waterspout estimated to have been a few hundred meters high was spotted by anglers fishing near Sok Kwu Wan. Thanks to the widespread use of camera phones, we actualy have a photo of it to (featured). 

The Hong Kong Observatory’s data showed that the area had strong convective activity, raising the chance of “waterspouts.” 

Waterspouts are most common in June and July in Hong Kong waters and have occurred several times in recent years, see earlier post on waterspouts in Hong Kong.

 

One pictures taken as far away as Ocean Park even captured it.

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The waterspout off Lamma seen from Ocean Park. (Image from Facbook user Yuri Wong)

Sad News: Lung Mei To Be Turned Into An Artificial Beach Despite Conservationists Appeals

A year-long legal battle to preserve Lung Mei Beach (Plover Cove, NE New Territories) has ended in defeat, meaning a controversial plan to turn the current beach into an artificial beach for recreational swimming will go ahead..

“Save Lung Mei Alliance” activists claimed that the government failed to take ecologically valuable and rare seahorse Hippocampus kuda into account in its assessment. They demanded that the government conduct another environmental impact assessment.

But the government argued that it had already assessed the impact of the project on marine life. In this study, the High Court judge said, the according to the first environmental impact assessment the number of Hippocampus kuda seahorses found at Lung Mei was not significant and that their presence did not mean that Lung Mei was the only habitat of the rare seahorses.In other words, the rare seahorse in only present in low numbers and just because this rare seahorse is found here does not mean it could not exist somewhere else we don’t know about, so we will go ahead with bulldozing the habitat and potentially wiping out the seahorses there – you never know we might find them somewhere else, too. 

Two seahorses, one roundbelly cowfish and an eight-fingered dragonet were found after the release of the EPD permit, in its “professional” opinion the AFCD said that construction work will not pose a danger to the creatures, since the damage is not expected to be worse than expected by the EPD , the chief executive and the Executive Council will not revoke the permit. Note the contradiction in saying “the project does not pose a danger to the creatures” and “the damage will not be worse than expected”. How can damage of the habitat not pose a danger to the creatures living there? Hong Kong Government logic, it seems.

“At this stage we will study the judgment with our lawyers first,” Ho Loy of the Lung Mei Alliance said. She hopes the government will respect the group’s right of appeal and not immediately start construction work.

Lung Mei Beach, which the government wants to turn into an artificial "beach" that swimmers will apparently enjoy more than a real beach.
Lung Mei Beach, which the government wants to turn into an artificial “beach” that swimmers will apparently enjoy more than a real beach.

32nd Pink Dolphin Stranding for 2014

Ocean Park Conservation Fund (OPCF) HK’s Cetacean Stranding Response Team is investigating a Chinese white dolphin (Sousa chinensis) stranding case yesterday (10th August 2014). A female adult measuring 2.53 m in length was found with bruises near the blowhole and both left and right flippers. Because the body was severely decomposed, the cause of death could not be readily determined and OPCF collected samples for further examination.

This case brings the total number of stranding case this year to 32. Please call 1823 to report any strandings.

OPCF staff examine the body of the 32nd stranding of 2014. (Image by OPCF)
OPCF staff examine the body of the 32nd stranding of 2014. (Image by OPCF)