Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ten Green Sea Turtles Returned to The Sea

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) released 10 green turtles seized in an earlier enforcement action in the southern waters of Hong Kong on Monday (November 15). 

The 10 green turtles are among the 35 green turtles and one hawksbill turtle seized from a fish raft in Sok Kwu Wan Fish Culture Zone on September 30. The turtles were assessed by vets at Ocean Park Hong Kong (OPHK) and have been looked after there with constant monitoring and veterinary care.

 An AFCD spokesman said, “This is the largest batch sent to OPHK since it started helping to provide care for rescued sea turtles. The department is thankful to OPHK for making special arrangement to accommodate the sea turtles and the veterinarians and staff for taking care of them.”

The 10 green turtles weighed from 9.6 kilograms to 23kg and measured about 45 centimetres to 61cm in shell length. All of them were considered to be in good condition and ready to be returned to the sea. The AFCD will continue to work together with OPHK on the other turtles seized in the operation and release them in batches later according to their health condition and the weather.

A green sea turtle being fitted with tracking devices

Before the turtles were released to the sea, the AFCD tagged each of them with a microchip and Inconel tags for future identification. Satellite transmitters were also attached to the carapaces of some of the turtles. By tracking the movement and feeding grounds of green turtles in the sea, the AFCD can collect data for formulating appropriate conservation measures and share its findings with other conservation authorities for the better conservation of sea turtles.

Members of the public are urged to report any sighting of sea turtles to the department via 1823. 

Four new Reef Fish Species for Hong Kong

A study by Allen W.L. Lo and Stanley K.H. Shea published recently in Msrine Biodiversity Records, has found 4 species of reef fish not previously known from Hong Kong waters. They also conclude that these 4 species are not introduced. So here is a welcome list of Hong Kong’s newest residents:

Ambyleleottis japonica

A Goby that grows to only 8.5 cm length and lives near the bottom and about which very little is known.

picture by J.E. Randall via Fishbase

 


Halichoeres hartzfeldii – the Goldstripe Wrasse

A reef living wrasse of the Western Pacific that grows up to 18cm in length.

picture by J.E. Randall via Fishbase



C

anthigaster papua – the Papuan Toby

A pufferfish species from the West Pacific that grows to 10cm.

picture by J. Bednarzik via Fishbase

 


Parapriacanthus sp. – a species of Sweeper

The authors of the paper did not identify it to species so this is just a placeholder.

Parapriacanthus ransonnetti via WikiCommons

The Black-naped and the Roseate Tern

I never had an interest in birds, but since I saw a white-bellied sea eagle near Shek Kwu Chau I have become interested at least in the big raptors. But there are also a lot of seabirds that form part of the ocean ecosystems even in Hong Kong.
And on a recent ferry ride in South Lantau I was treated to a great spectacle of 2 beautiful species of seabirds, the Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii) and the Black-naped Tern (Sterna sumatrana).

I only had my smartphone with me so I shot this slow-mo footage of the terns ducking and diving behind the ferry and occassionaly plunge-diving into the water at high speed and then flying up again with small fish in their beaks.

Along for the ferry ride were three birders with huge telezoom cameras and I thought at the time “I bet these guys are with the HK Bird Watching Society. I must check their forum page later to see if they post the images…” – I haven;t found them yet, but in the meantime I found these stunning images on th HKBWS Forum which are well worth a look.

The Black-naped Tern has white forehead and crown with black nape extending through the eyes. It is an oceanic bird mostly found in tropical and subtropical areas of the Pacific and Indian Oceans and rarely found inland. It frequents small offshore islands, reeds, sand spits and rocky cays, feeding in atoll lagoons and close inshore over breakers, but sometimes also far out at sea. The diet is mainly small fish and they will almost always forage singly by shallow plunge-diving or surface-diving. The breeding season varies depending on locality, usually forming small colonies of 5 to 20 pairs, but sometimes up to 200 pairs. Colonies are often formed on unlined depression in the sand or in gravel pockets on coral banks close to the high tide line. In Hong Kong It can be seen over the sea and aroundcoastal areas in the summer.

The Roseate Tern has white underparts with pink, red bill and legs. It is a cosmopolitan species occurring all the way from the Atlantic coast of Ireland to Australia, although it is split into 3 races by geographical areas. In Hong Kong it can be seen over the sea and around coastal areas of northeastern and southern waters in the summer. According to the WWF, the Roseate Tern is now a rare visitor to Hong Kong with only 10-20 terns coming to Hong Kong, so it seems I was quite lucky to see some of them!

During the summer months from May to September, the Roseate Tern, the Black-naped Tern and the Bridled Tern regularly come to breed on the small and remote rocky islands in eastern and southern of Hong Kong waters. In the last 10 years between 2001 and 2010, summer population of the 3 tern species at these breeding sites ranged at 270 to 990, or 570 on average.

There are a lot of keen bird-watchers in Hong Kong, so there is no shortage of information and photographs of terns in Hong kong on the web, so if you are interested in finding out more about these birds, have a look at:

Painted Sweetlips and quiz!

A good post from fellow HK undersea blogger ‘green blue sea’ about the lovely sweet lips fish of HK.

green blue sea ∙ 蔚藍碧海

A strong contender for the ‘fish with the sexiest name’ award, the sweetlips are a big family of around 140 species, many of which are very pretty. If you’ve ever dived much in tropical reefs you will probably recognise these fairly large and unmistakeable spotted or stripey fish. They do indeed have big lips, and big doe eyes as well, giving them a bit of a dopey look. Here are some I spotted in the Philippines:


Left: Lined Sweetlips at Tubbataha Reefs; Right: Ribbon Sweetlips at Kerikite Island (and spot the odd one out — it’s a Painted Sweetlips)


In Hong Kong waters we have a few resident species of sweetlips. They are shyer and less flashy than the tropical species and a 2013 fish survey concluded that three out of the four local species they recorded were either ‘uncommon’ or ‘rare’. The one common species which local divers are most likely to…

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Whale Shark Spotted off Sai Kung

On Monday morning (20/7/15) at around 9am, a fisherman was out on his 20-foot-long boat off the shores of Tung Lung Chau Island, south of Sai Kung, when he spotted what he thought to be a shark.

It was a gentle whale shark, the largest fish in the ocean which feeds on plankton with the occasional small squid or fish.

Once the fisherman realised that the animal posed him no harm, he observed it and took photos for the next half hour before it swam away, reports Headline News.

Whale sharks can reach up to about 13 metres in length and 21 tons in weight.

The last time a whale shark was sighted in Hong Kong was in 2012.

The president of the Ichthyological Society of Hong Kong believes that the trawling ban has led to healthier fish populations. He predicts that in the future, we’ll be seeing even more sharks in Hong Kong.

Spotted Seal Pup Dies at Ocean Park

Ocean Park is investigating what the accidental death of a year-old male spotted seal.

The seal died during an incident at about 2.30pm on Monday (1/6/2015) during a backwash cycle on filters at the Polar Adventure attraction which opened in 2012 and features different species of penguins, walruses, seals and sealions. In subtropical Hong Kong the energy-intensive attraction is kept at 8-10 degrees C for species native to the South Pole, with 15 to 17 degrees C for North Pole species.

The accident appeared to be the result of the animal becoming trapped against an outlet during the backwash operation, but the exact cause of death had not been confirmed after an examination of the body was carried out on Monday.

The dead seal had been born in captivity at the park.

Animal deaths are quite a frequent occurrence at Ocean Park. In 2014, 59 fish died at the Ocean Aquarium due to human error. Also in 2014, 2 rare Chinese sturgeons died from viral infections.

Waterspout over Pearl River off Shenzhen Bao’an Airport

Apple Daily and the Standard reported a ‘tornado’ as Shenzhen was battered by thunderstorms and rain yesterday (11th May 2015). As the tornado was over the Pearl River Estuary and not actually on land it wasn’t a tornado, but a waterspout. 

The last report of a waterspout in the waters of Shenzhen Bay was in July 2010.