By Reef Check Hong Kong
In November, Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) announced that the Reef Check in Hong Kong has continued to yield encouraging results this year, showing that local corals are generally in healthy and stable condition and exhibit a rich diversity of species.
Hong Kong Reef Check 2013, a four-month exercise starting in June, covered the marine areas in the eastern part of Hong Kong extending from Tung Ping Chau in the north to the Ninepin Group in the south, including a number of sites of ecological importance. Among the 33 survey sites, nine are within the Hoi Ha Wan, Yan Chau Tong and Tung Ping Chau marine parks.
A variation in coral coverage, ranging from 20 percent to 78.1 percent, was recorded among the survey sites. Twenty sites, including all those in the marine parks, recorded high coral coverage (above 50 percent). Among all sites, Coral Beach at Hoi Ha Wan recorded the highest coral coverage of 78.1 percent.
Most of the sites were found to have high species diversity. Wrasses, groupers, butterflyfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers and cowries were species commonly found in the survey sites. Most of the groupers, sweetlips, snappers and wrasses were found in survey sites at Port Shelter and north-eastern waters including the three marine parks.
Coral bleaching and some coral damage were observed at a few sites but the impact was minor and localized.
Fifty dive teams comprising more than 580 volunteer divers from different sectors of the community took part in the Reef Check this year. The AFCD awarded souvenirs and certificates to the teams and the participating scientists to recognize their contributions.
The first Reef Check was held by the Hong Kong Reef Check Foundation in 1997. The AFCD has collaborated with the Foundation to conduct the survey since 2000. 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 as well as to raise public awareness on the ecological importance of corals and the need for coral conservation.