Check 2004" a big splash at Sharp Island(pdf)
Allen To and Anna Situ
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.
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).
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.
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 <http://www.reefcheck.org/>
[Accessed 5 Sept 2004].