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Web resources for the biodiversity and ecology of animals
Introducing the Swire Institute of Marine Science Museum-a resource that may be useful for your research!
New locality records species of conservation concern
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Watching wildlife in Panamá
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Introducing the Swire Institute of Marine Science Museum – a resource that may be useful for your research!

by Benny K.K. Chan

Prior to the 1970s there was little taxonomical information on local crabs, fishes or molluscs as only a few marine biologists were working in Hong Kong at that time (see Morton, 2000). To enhance this limited background information, a number of international workshops on the marine fauna and flora of Hong Kong was organized by Prof. Brian Morton at the University of Hong Kong from 1977 – 1998. These workshops invited overseas scientists with expertise in various marine phyla to investigate the intertidal and subtidal biodiversity of Hong Kong. One of the major important outputs of these workshops involved the identification and description of local species and new species in Hong Kong, much of which has been published in the workshop Proceedings (Morton, 2000). Workshop participants also deposited a considerable number of their representative samples, which were gathered together with the opening of the Swire Marine Laboratory. These were housed in a dedicated museum with the development of the Swire Institute of Marine Science (SWIMS) to provide a resource for future research. To make use of these representative specimens, the SWIMS Museum has been set up to store and maintain them in a systematic manner. Initially, the museum was not very user-friendly as many specimens were still being sorted and catalogued with a museum number and were not readily accessible.

This summer, however, with the help of three Environmental Life Science students (I really need to say a big thanks to Miss Chan Hoi Lam, Mr Kiwi Lee and Mr Cheung Kar Chiu), most of the specimens have been now re-arranged, updated and a new database for the collection has been produced. At present, the museum has a collection of over 1900 species including the Phyla Annelida (250 species), Brachiopoda (2 species), Chordata (400 species), Cnidaria (178 species), Echinodermata (37 species), Echiura (3 species), Mollusca (578 species), Nemertea (1 species), Phycophyta including Class Chlorophyceae, Rhodophyceae and Phaeophyceae (50 species), Sipuncula (6 species), and Sub-phylum Crustacea (418 species). The collection also contains para-types and type specimens of new species in Hong Kong (for example, see Kaehler, 1998; Bamber, 2000; Slingsby et al., 2000; Randall and Cornish, 2000; Yan and Chan, manuscript) and holds an especially rich collection of samples obtained from the workshop trawling surveys and local fish collections. In late September this year, a web-based version of the museum database will be uploaded at the SWIMS home page for people to search the collections and there is also a system for loans and museum visits (see the SWIMS home page at

The SWIMS museum will, therefore, provide resources for researchers who want to confirm species identifications of local marine organisms and conduct further taxonomic studies. It also provides a database for the marine fauna and flora in Hong Kong. At present, a reference library is planned to include references that are relevant to the specimens inside the SWIMS museum. This is in an attempt to contribute useful resources to the research of marine ecology and enhance the understanding of marine biodiversity in Hong Kong.

The SWIMS Museum includes almost 2,000 species from Hong Kong waters compactly stored and catalogued.


Bamber R. N. (2000). Additions to the apseudomorph tanaidaceans (Crustacean: Peracarida) of Hong Kong. In: B. Morton ed. The Marine Flora and Fauna of Hong Kong and southern China V. Proceedings of the Tenth International Marine Biological Workshop: The Marine Flora and Fauna of Hong Kong and Southern China, Hong Kong. 6-26 April 1998. Pg. 37 – 56.

Kaehler, S. (1998). The non-coralline epilithic encrusting algae of Hong Kong II: additions and identification. Asian Marine Biology 15: 1-17.

Morton, B. (2000). Hong Kong’s international malacological and marine biological workshops: their successes and achievements. National Taiwan Museum Special Publication Series 10: 1-18.

Randall J.E. & Cornish. A. (2000). Xyrichtys trivittatus, a new species of razorfish (Perciformes: Labridae) from Hong Kong and Taiwan. Zoological Studies 39(1):18-22.

Slingsby G. P., Lewis R. I. & Williams, G. A. (2000). An investigation of the taxonomic status of Siphonaria species in Hong Kong, using shell morphometrics and allozymes. In: B. Morton ed. The Marine Flora and Fauna of Hong Kong and southern China V. Proceedings of the Tenth International Marine Biological Workshop: The Marine Flora and Fauna of Hong Kong and Southern China, Hong Kong. 6-26 April 1998, pp. 137 – 145.

Yan, Y. & Chan B.K.K. (manuscript). A new barnacle species of Chthamalus neglecta sp. nov. (Cirripedia: Balanomorpha) in Hong Kong: adult and larval morphology. (Unpublished manuscript).


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