February 15, 2013

Reef Check Hong Kong Marks 15th Anniversary

By Reef Check Hong Kong

\"\"Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) held a prize presentation ceremony in December to commend the work of Reef Check teams and their contributions to the success of Reef Check Hong Kong in 2012. The ceremony also marked the 15th anniversary of their annual survey. The AFCD has collaborated with the Foundation to conduct the survey since 2000.

The 2012 results showed that local corals are generally in a healthy and stable condition with high fauna diversity.

The 48 participating Reef Check teams were comprised of more than 570 volunteers from different sectors of the community, including education institutes, green groups, commercial sectors, government departments and diving groups. This is a 9-fold increase in volunteers in comparison to the number who participated in 1997, when there were only 5 teams.

The areas surveyed are extensive, covering 33 sites of ecological importance. The four-month exercise started in June and covered coral sites in the eastern part of Hong Kong waters extending from Tung Ping Chau in the north to the Ninepin Group in the south, including three Marine Parks – Hoi Ha Wan, Yan Chau Tong and Tung Ping Chau.

A variation in coral coverage (ranging from 20% to 76.8%) was recorded among the

Velvet corals at Bluff Island, Ung Kong Wan

survey sites. Nineteen sites, including dive sites within the three Marine Parks recorded high coral coverage (above 50%). Among all sites, Coral Beach of Hoi Ha Wan recorded the highest coral coverage of 76.8%. Coral bleaching and some coral damage were observed at a few sites but the impact was minor and localized.

Marker buoys were installed at Ung Kong Wan, Port Island and Sharp Island in 2002 for coral protection. Monitoring results from Reef Check indicate that there has been an overall improvement in cover coverage at these 3 sites following the installation of the buoys. This may have been related to the success of coral marker buoys and the continued efforts in education and publicity for coral conservation.

Indicator species were abundant at most of the survey sites and most sites boasted high species diversity. Wrasses, groupers, butterfly fish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers and cowries were species commonly found.

The AFCD will continue to organize Reef Check activities to collect important information necessary for devising conservation and management measures to protect the precious corals.

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A spotted seahorse at Sharp Island. Butterfly fishes at Bluff Island, Ung Kong Wan. Flowerpot corals at Sharp Island.