Hong Kong Marine Biodiversity Roving Exhibition 2018

The marine environment of Hong Kong comprises of a vast diversity of marine lives. In order to enrich public’s understanding on the rich marine biodiversity in Hong Kong as well as to promote the message of marine conservation in the society, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department organises the Hong Kong Marine Biodiversity Roving Exhibition at five venues between June and December 2018. Through interactive panels and games, display of marine lives models and photo and video galleries etc, this roving exhibition aims to introduce to the public the unique marine environment of Hong Kong, fun facts of some interesting marine species as well as various conservation measures implemented by Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. 

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Underwater World of Hong Kong Featured in New Stamps of Hong Kong Post Issued July 2019

Hong Kong Post unveiled a series of new postal stamps this week, including a set featuring Hong Kong’s rich marine biodiversity designed by Shirman Lai . Revealing our beautiful underwater world, this six-piece issue aims to promote awareness for marine conservation in the hope of making joint efforts to preserve our precious marine life. For extra fun, the souvenir sheet features fish-shape perforations to match the overall fish silhouette.  Among others the stamp features the Chinese White dolphin, stingrays, corals green sea turtles and jellyfish.

Hong Kong's UNderwater World featured on a 2019 Issue of Postal Stamps

The State of Hong Kong’s Fishing Industry 2018

Hong Kong Fishing Industry Infographic 2018

Three Men Given Suspended Sentences For Violating the Trawler Ban

Three men who used trawling gear to fish illegally on August 27 were convicted and sentenced to four weeks’ imprisonment suspended for one year at Kwun Tong Magistrates’ Courts on August 29.

The Marine Police found a trawler suspected to be trawling in the waters off Conic Island (Sai Kung Area) at about 7pm on August 27 and intercepted the vessel for an inspection. Two hundred catties of fish and some trawling apparatus were seized on board the vessel.

The AFCD took over the case. Upon investigation, three men on the vessel were charged for contravening the Fisheries Protection Regulations by using prohibited fishing gear. They appeared at Kwun Tong Magistrates’ Courts and were convicted and sentenced today. The fishing gear concerned was also forfeited.

An AFCD spokesman reminded the public that the ban on trawling came into force on December 31, 2012. Under the Fisheries Protection Ordinance, any person who contravenes the ban is liable to a maximum penalty of a fine of $200,000 and imprisonment for six months upon conviction.

Trawling is a non-selective fishing operation which damages the seabed and marine ecosystems. A ban on trawling has brought this harmful depletion to an immediate halt, enabling marine ecosystems to be gradually rehabilitated to a sustainable level and be better conserved in the long run.

The spokesman said, “The AFCD and the Police will continue to carry out joint enforcement operations to crack down on illegal fishing activities.”

New Species Named After Hong Kong

Introducing Hoilungia hongkongensis a Placozoan. What’s a placozoan? Literally it means “flat animal” and these animals represent one of the simplest multicellular life forms known. And up until this year the entire phylum (major branch of the tree of life) of Placozoans had only 1 species: Trichoplax adharens! That would be like saying that the sum of all known vertebrates was just one species.

But a team of scientists have now added Hoilungia hongkongensis making it 2!

Hoilungia – meaning sea dragon – was isolated from HK and therefore honoured with the species name hongkongensis. Don’t rush to go looking for this 1 mm across flattish blob though. Placozoans are utterly featureless and have only 5-6 different cell types – one of which is the epithelial cell which has little beating hairs that propel the animal across the sediment (slooowly) where it feeds like an amoeba by engulfing detritus. Like other featureless or cryptic species this one was identified and separated from others by genetic analysis alone. Basically there is nothing to look at.

Featured image: Bernd Schierwater (cc by 4.0)

Three Green Turtles Returned to Sea

The AFCD released three green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in the southern waters of Hong Kong on July 27.

One of the turtles was seized by the AFCD in an operation, while the other two were rescued in the waters near Sha Tau Kok and Siu Sai Wan, respectively. The three green turtles were accommodated temporarily at Ocean Park where they were assessed by veterinarians and kept under constant monitoring and veterinary care.

Photo shows one of the green turtles, earlier rescued in the waters near Siu Sai Wan, being released to the sea. (Photo from the AFCD Press Release)

Photo shows one of the green turtles, confiscated by the AFCD in an enforcement operation earlier, being released to the sea. (Photo from the AFCD Press Release)

Photo shows one of the green turtles, earlier rescued in the waters near Sha Tau Kok, being released to the sea. (Photo from the AFCD Press Release)

The three turtles released weighed 10 kg, 11 kg and 93kg respectively, and their shell lengths were 43 cm, 45 cm and 92 cm. All of them were assessed by veterinarians as being in good condition and ready to be returned to the sea.

Before the green turtles were released to the sea, the AFCD tagged each of them with a microchip and tags for future identification. Satellite transmitters were also attached to their shells. By tracking the movement and feeding grounds of green turtles in the sea, the AFCD will collect data for formulating appropriate conservation measures and share its findings with other conservation authorities for the better conservation of green turtles through concerted efforts.

If you see any sea turtles or suspected irregularities involving sea turtles you should call the AFCD via 1823.

The Betuline Cone – Conus betulinus

The betuline cone (Conus betulinus) is a large predatory and venomous cone snail, related to the textile cone.

It has a heavy shell that grows to up to 17 cm in length, and is distributed across the Indo-Pacific. The snail itself is velvet black and crawls around on a broad foot hunting worms.

In Hong Kong it occurs on sandy bottoms down to 5 m and in 1985 was still regarded common, although I haven’t ever seen a live one locally (yet!)

In contrast to the textile cone, the toxicity of the betuline cone is low. The toxins of cone shells are known collectively as conotoxins and act on the ion-channels regulating cells activities as well as on neurotransmitter functions.