Red Tide Sighting at Tolo Harbour

AFCD Press Release 3rd August 2012

Red tide sighted
Friday, August 3, 2012 – A red tide was sighted in Hong Kong waters today (August 3), an inter-departmental red tide working group reported.Staff of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) sighted the red tide at Tolo Harbour, including the Yim Tin Tsai and Yim Tin Tsai (East) Fish Culture Zones. It still persists. No associated death of fish has been reported by mariculturists so far.

“The red tide was formed by Scrippsiella trochoidea, which is common in Hong Kong waters and non-toxic,” a spokesman for the working group said.

The AFCD urged mariculturists at Yim Tin Tsai, Yim Tin Tsai (East), Yung Shue Au and Lo Fu Wat to monitor the situation closely.

Red tide is a natural phenomenon. The AFCD’s proactive phytoplankton monitoring programme will continue monitoring red tide occurrences to minimise the impact on the mariculture industry and the public.

Original AFCD Website Press Releas

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Two hawksbill turtles returned to sea

Press Release from Wednesday, June 27, 2012 from the AFCD Website (click here for original)

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) today (June 27) released two sub-adult hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) in the southern waters of Hong Kong. They were handed in to the AFCD in October 2010 and May 2012.

After initial assessment by the AFCD, the turtles were delivered to Hong Kong Ocean Park (Ocean Park) for appropriate veterinary treatment, where they have since been kept with constant monitoring and veterinary care. Ocean Park staff hand-fed the hawksbill turtles with squid, shrimp and fish, which form part of their natural diet.

“The first hawksbill turtle was found underweight and had abrasions on the carapace when it first arrived at Ocean Park in 2010. When the second turtle arrived in 2012, foreign objects such as zip ties and straws were found in its stool. It also showed signs of strained and stressed muscles. However, the turtles showed great improvement in their health and behaviour, and recovered well under our team’s close observation and intensive veterinary care,” the Chief Veterinarian of Ocean Park, Dr Paolo Martelli said.

During rehabilitation, the two turtles exhibited considerable growth in size and improvement in activity, and were finally deemed physically fit for release to the wild. They currently measure approximately 57 cm and 49 cm in carapace length and weigh about 15kg and 10kg respectively.


Before the turtles were released into the sea, the AFCD inserted microchips and metal tags with unique codes on their flippers for future identification. Satellite transmitters were also attached to their carapaces. By tracing the oceanic movement and feeding grounds of hawksbill turtles, the AFCD can formulate appropriate protection measures and seek co-operation with relevant authorities to better conserve this critically-endangered species.

The AFCD is very thankful to the veterinarians and staff of Ocean Park for their assistance and efforts in taking care of the turtles, and will continue to work with Ocean Park in handling such cases.

In Hong Kong, all sea turtle species are protected under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap 170) and the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap 586). Of the five species of sea turtles that can be found in local waters, hawksbills are the rarest. Hawksbill turtles are renowned for their strong bird-like beak and beautiful honey-marble carapace.

Members of the public are urged to report any sighting or stranding of sea turtles to the department via the 1823 Call Centre to help protect them. The AFCD will continue to promote public engagement in sea turtle conservation through educational materials and activities.

Pretty in Pink – the Chinese White dolphins

Humpback dolphin by Tracy Meintjes There is a lot of information on the internet about the Sousa chinensis, the Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphin, also known as the Chinese White Dolphin or the Pink Dolphin, so I won’t repeat any of it here. Instead here are some links to organizations and people that deal with the topic full-time:

 

But just because I found some old images on my computer, here are 3 blurry images of the dolphins from a distance.

Some images of the Chinese White Dolphin or Pink Dolphins (Sousa chinensis) taken back in 2002 (Credit: Chris Cornelius)

Exciting news: Whale Shark spotted at Sham Wan, Lamma Island

 

Whale shark at Georgia aquarium
Source=en:Image:Whale shark Georgia aquarium.jpg |Date=16 September 2006 |Author=User:Zac Wolf

Exciting news: Whale Shark spotted at Sham Wan, Lamma Island

Ignore the sensationalist newspaper reporting about terror stricken families etc.

We had a benign, plankton feeding whale shark in Hong Kong!!! How cool is that! Lots of people pay a lot of money to swim with one of these, using helicopters and spotter planes to find them.

Whooohooo!

My old friend the Arabian Cowrie

Mauritia arabica shell
Credit: Source=http://www.flickr.com/photos/28722516@N02/3806553053/ |Author=Richard Parker (http://www.flickr.com/people/28722516@N02/

Meet an old friend of mine, the Arabian cowrie known by its scientific name as Mauritia arabica (Linnaeus, 1758). When I started my first website as a teenager this was the first animal to feature and it’s still one of my favorites.  I have always loved the fine lines and curves on the shell that resemble Arabic script and give the shell its scientific name “arabica”.

They are pretty wide-spread ranging from South Africa all the way up East Africa , the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam all the way across the Indonesian and Philippine islands and southern coast of China, down to Papua Guinea and northern Australia. It lives in shallow water near corals at cavern entrances and overhanging boulders or even under rocks where it feeds on algae during the night.
In Hong Kong if you know where to look its fairly easy to find them, too. Last weekend I was walking along a small beach in Ha Mei Wan (western side Lamma Island) south of the power station and spotted several bunches of 10 or more of them. The tide was very low which  exposed many of them to the air and huddled together in shady and moist spots of overhanging boulders near the water line.

Arabic Writing image
The inspiration for the name Arabian cowrie: the markings on the shell look a bit like Arabic writing. Source=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:IlkhanidQuran.JPG |Date=2008-2-9 |Author=Danieliness

Another good place I have found this species is snorkeling among coral covered boulders at Shum Wan on Lamma Island. These guys like to cling to the overhangs of boulders near the sandy bottom.

I have inserted a picture from WikiCommons for this post, but for some really excellent images have a look at this site where you can see all the varieties of this little beauty from multiple angles: http://www.cypraea.eu/species/cypraea_arabica.htm

PLEASE, DO NOT COLLECT LIVE SPECIMENS OR BUY THEM FROM SHOPS OR ONLINE: There are many websites that sell seashells for profit and to get a perfect shell for selling, most collectors will take live specimens. They will put them in 100% alcohol to make them swell out of their shell and die so that the shell can be stored without smelling of rotting snails. But why kill such a beautiful animal  simply to keep in a box and show off? If we all do that there won’t be any left. Sometimes  empty shells  wash up on  beaches, especially after typhoons. They might not be in perfect shape, but you will be a better person for not killing these pretty little things.