Animal Rights and Conservation


DEB News

All about Yixin Zhang, "newtest" Research Assistant Professor in DEB



SWIMS tidings


KFBG-Wildlife Updates & Sightings

KFBG-Obituary: Chow Po Shing (Preston)


Wild Corner

Recent Publications

2004 Postgraduates degrees from DEB

Information for Contributors

Miscellany (pdf)

"Reef Check 2004" a big splash at Sharp Island
The Environmental Life Science Society
Birdbrains in the Big Bird Race
Rocky shore envy: observations vs. experiments in ecological research
Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden - Wildlife updates & sightings

"Reef Check 2004" a big splash at Sharp Island(pdf)

by Allen To and Anna Situ

Just a month after the Big Fish Count in late June, commenced another local marine event, Reef Check Hong Kong 2004. Reef Check was originally developed as a way to monitor coral reefs around the world. This event is now carried out in over 60 countries and territories (Reef Check, 2004). The aim of the present annual event is to raise public awareness on marine protection. It also helps gather important information about marine life such as abundance of certain indicator fish species (e.g. wrasses, groupers, sweetlips), invertebrate species (e.g. cucumbers, crabs) and percent coverage of coral communities, and their health. We two, teaming up with Kenny Leung, Polly, Kiwi, Wai Tak Cheung, Jasmine, Karen Lui and a few HKU graduates, who are also interested in marine life, joined the event. Long Ke was our survey site on 28 Aug.

When our boat arrived at Long Ke in the morning, we were surprised by the colour of the water. It was totally brown or even red in some areas! As Dr Leung suggested, dinoflagellates of the species Prorocentrum micans had spread to this area and formed the red tide. A very large area of the water was invaded by the red tide. As you may guess, none of us dared get into the water. Having reported this red tide sighting, our team eventually decided to move over to Sharp Island. This surge of red tide later spread throughout eastern waters.

Fig. 1. Team-scientist Wai Tak Cheung explaining details of our survey (Photo: Wong Yuen-Yee).

We divided ourselves into different teams, each responsible for a specific category of marine life as mentioned before. The survey was carried out along a 100 m transect line laid near the coast. The heavy rain of the few days before our survey had increased the turbidity of the water thus reducing visibility and making our survey difficult. This, combined with the rough water on that day, disturbed our survey substantially. Luckily, we all came back safe without getting injured, although some of us got seasick and… threw up overboard. Despite the poor water visibility, we were still able to record certain indicator species. For instance, over 40 wrasses (mostly Halichoeres spp.) were recorded. Also encountered during the survey, as reported by our teammates, were a juvenile painted sweetlips (Diagramma pictum) and a grouper (possibly Epinephelus coioides or E. bleekeri). Other marine fauna such as Clark’s anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii) (Fig. 2), cornetfish (Fistularia commersonii), cuttlefish eggs (Fig. 3), various kinds of starfish and cucumbers were also observed.

Although the Hong Kong government has made an effort to promote marine conservation and protection, for instance through the Big Fish Count and Reef Check, it is not uncommon to hear news about people stepping on corals, stealing corals and catching fish for aquaria. We saw signs of coral bleaching and damage during the Reef Check survey. The increasing frequency of red tides also deserves more attention. It is obvious that marine conservation entails long-term work, much more has to be done and learnt not only by the government, but also by the general public.

Fig. 2. The anemonefish, Amphiprion clarkii (Photo: Wong Yuen-Yee).

Fig. 3. Cuttlefish eggs observed during the survey (Photo: Wong Yuen-Yee).


Reef Check (2004) Reef Check. Available from <> [Accessed 5 Sept 2004].


For more information, contact

Copyright © 2000