If you come across this widely shared Facebook post of a highly Benefizspiel, invasive species or released exotic pet called Ocean Mamba spotted at Repulse Bay, you can relax. It’s just an April Fools Joke. No such snake species exists and even it’s scientific name ‘Dendroapsis Oceanum’ is grammatically wrong.
Jobs in Marine Biology are rare and even more so in Hong Kong. So when I saw this one posted, I had to share:
Company: ERM Hong Kong LTD.
Responsibilities:Conduct marine mammal observation/monitoring on construction vessels/ land-base in infrastructure projects
Working Hours: From 7 am to 5:30 pm
Working Location: Lantau Island & Tuen Mun
Training will be provided before the commencement of work
Form 5 graduate or above
Patient, responsible, positive and passionate about ocean
Willing to work outdoor, on shifts and during weekends and public holidays
Experience in observing dolphins is preferred but not a must
Immediately available is preferred
Fresh graduates will also be considered
The minimum of working days for the full-time position will be 18 days per month. For the part-time position, the working days will be 5 to 7 days per month.
Haberma tingkok that’s the name given to a new species of mangrove crab that climbs in trees along the eastern coast of Hong Kong. It was collected from branches between five and six feet high.
It has a dark brown upper shell, or carapace, long, thin legs that are light brown, and its claws, or chelipeds, are a brownish orange.
Mangrove crabs are quite small. The collected specimens measured between 8 and 9 millimeters in length, less than a third of an inch.
Scientists from the University of Hong Kong and the National University of Singapore described the new species in the journal ZooKeys.
The genus Haberma now contains three species. Peter Ng, a marine biologist at NUS and co-author of the latest study, established the genus 15 years ago and helped discover all three species (the other two are H. nanum and H. kamora).
H. tingkok was named after the Ting Kok mangrove stand, in Tolo Harbour, where it was found in the mid intertidal area. The area is the largest mangrove stand on the eastern coast of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s mangroves and the species they shelter are under threat from pollution and land reclamation projects.
Image credit: Dr Peter Ng
The SCMP reported yesterday that a surge in visitor numbers to the ecologically sensitive Cape D’Aguilar and its marine reserve has disrupted the work of scientists, with people even collecting animals and fishing illegally.
Quoting Professor Gray Williams of the Swire Institute of Marine Science research facility (SWIMS) it reported that a surge of visitors in the past few years to Cape D’Aguilar at the southeastern tip of Hong Kong Island has disrupted research and experiments and raised safety concerns.
Some of the damage caused was cited as treading on things, changing the water supply, pulling small seedlings out of their pods and not putting them back and so that they die and standing on animals and thereby killing them.
The researchers and students at the station also observed visitors collecting animals or fishing in the area, which is illegal as the area is a no-take marine reserve.
The research centre and nearby residences are private property but visitors have attempted to enter the buildings – some successfully – despite the “private property” signs . The centre has therefore put up barriers and installed locks, but people are still attempting to bypass them. Most visitors were generally “very reasonable” when confronted, but some refused to stop what they were doing and loud arguments with resulted, according to Williams.
Williams said he did not want to impose the “ultimate” solution of putting up a wall, because it would spoil the aesthetics of the place, but may have to consider it if the situation did not improve.
The area surrounding SWIMS at Cape d’Aguilar is a designated site of scientific interest by the government in 1991. SWIMS opened in November 1994 to conduct marine research in and around the marine reserve.
Around 2013 after a number of articles about Cape D’Aguilar Lighthouse in local newspapers, researchers saw a marked increase in sightseers to the area . Unobscured by air and light pollution the area also saw many star-gazers who want to study a night sky . There are even websites arranging trips by tour groups, with some even listing the private research facility as a landmark to visit. All of this is putting increased pressure on the site’s ability to handle visitors.
Williams hoped that making people aware of the situation could help to minimise the impact their presence had on the area.
“Trying to go through education, to explain to people, that if you are to come down here then you need to be careful to make sure that [they] don’t disrupt the environment, because we can see that the environment has already been damaged by the number of people coming here,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the Agricultural, Fisheries and Conservation Department said its responsibility was to the marine reserve – the waters below the high tide mark – and not the coastal rocky area or other land areas in Cape D’Aguilar.
(My own commentary on this: Unlike the clear distinction of areas of responsibility in HK government departments, the marine habitats do not generally define so clearly. The cross-over from sea-to-land is not a distinct line but a continuum with dependencies on both sides. Many insects and land invertebrates will feed on marine detritus at low tide, many land plants disperse via the sea, and many marine animals depend on land-based organisms for food. It would be wise for government departments to recognize this and use a more inter-disciplinary approach to protect areas where two departments responsibilities meet instead of sticking to “their area”. The same incidentally applied to the air-pollution problem in HK, when the EPD was responsible for air pollution, but if you saw a ship bellowing out black smoke and reported it to the EPD, they could not do anything about it because that was the Marine Departments responsibility. However, I think this issue has since been addressed and there are inter-department groups now.
China Daily reported that an autopsy on the sperm whale that became stranded in Daya Bay, in South China’s Guangdong province, has revealed the whale was pregnant. A crane hoisted the dead sperm whale out of the Harbor last Wednesday.
A developing 110 kg male fetus, about two meters in length, was recovered.
“It is the first time that an unborn baby has been found inside a stranded sperm whale in the world,” said Tong Shenhan, head of the land and marine life research institute of Xiamen city, who participated in the autopsy.
He believed that the finding would be of significance to the protection and rescue of sperm whale.
On Thursday, a group of about 20 experts from the School of Marine Sciences of Sun Yat-Sen University, Hong Kong Ocean Park and other institutes, conducted the autopsy in Huizhou Fishery Research and Extension Center, in Guangdong, taking samples of skin, fat, muscle and blood from the adult sperm whale.
They unexpectedly found milk in the whale’s breasts and then a placenta 2.6 meters in length.
The fetus will also undergo an autopsy, which is expected to take about one month due to its difficulty.
On Sunday morning, fishery authorities in Shenzhen city received a report of an adult whale trapped in fishing nets in waters off Daya Bay.
After the whale was freed from the nets, authorities and zoologists tried to guide it back into deep sea. However, it continued to swim in shallow waters off Shenzhen and Huizhou cities. It was confirmed to have been stranded near a wharf Tuesday afternoon and died Wednesday.
Tong said that the whale, estimated to be about 5 years old, was healthy and had no visible injuries.
He does not think it was tangled to death by fishing nets but the cause of death will be verified in at least a month.
The animal, weighing 14 tons and stretching 10 meters long, was lifted by a crane from the water in Huizhou port on Wednesday and was transported to Huizhou Fishery Research and Extension Center.
Huizhou has invited experts to conduct research on the whale examining its physiological structure, molecular biology, zoology and pathology, to provide more scientific data and theory for the protection of the endangered sperm whale.
The autopsy on the adult whale will continue over the next two days.
The city also plans to preserve four specimens of the animal’s skin, bone, viscera and placenta.
The Hong Kong Underwater Photo and Video Competition 2016, jointly organised by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) and Hong Kong Underwater Association, announced its winning entries.
The Hong Kong Underwater Photo and Video Competition, in its 5th year now, received 443 entries this year, featuring marine ecology, habitats and marine life in Hong Kong waters.
An AFCD spokesman said, “Entries over the years have showcased the beauty of marine life and habitats in Hong Kong waters, and have helped promote the conservation of the marine environment.”
The event comprised a photo competition and a video competition. In the photo competition the categories were Macros/Close-ups and Standard/Wide Angle. In addition to prizes for champions and runners-up in each group, there were Special Prizes for Junior Underwater Photographers presented by the judging panel to encourage less experienced underwater photographers to participate in the competition.
I have added the winning video entries to this Youtube playlist. The winning photos as well as the video entries can also be found on the AFCD Chinese page for the competition and the competitions Facebook page.
The venomous Conus textile is one of the most abundant and widespread cone shell in Hong Kong waters. Easily recognized by the tent-shaped markings on the orange-colored cone-shaped shell with wavy chocolates lines, you are advised to stay away from these beautiful but dangerous reef predators. They like to hide in sandy patches under rocks and also occurs widely throughout the Info-Pacific and grow to a maximum of 15cm shell length. The danger they pose comes from a tiny venom-laden harpoon they can fire from their proboscis. They normally use this to hunt other sea snails by injection them with conotoxin through the harpoon-like needle teeth they can fire out of their proboscis. They can reach around to any point on their shell with this proboscis, and several human death have resulted from handling.
To see exactly how subtle and fast the venom injection is, I recommend this clip from YouTube of a textile cone in a tank hunting down a prey snail. The prey snail in the clip has actually sealed itself into its shell and shut the opening with a special door called an operculum – but apparently to no avail!