Relocated Seahorses Missing

Two endangered seahorses which were moved from Lung Mei Beach near Tai Po, to make way for man-made pleasure beach, ca not be found anymore. Whether they survived the move is not known.

The Civil Engineering and Development Department failed to find them during a search in late January.

“We have not located the seahorses but we have not found any bodies either,” said senior engineer Raymond Cheng Kin-man. “We are

confident that they are still alive.”

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July 5th 1930: Large Shark Caught Off Tai Po

On this day 85 years (1930) the Hong Kong Telegraph reported the capture of a large shark off Tai Po:

The Hong Kong Telegraph 5th July 1930 (p.20)
The Hong Kong Telegraph 5th July 1930 (p.20)

The naturalist G.A.C Herklots, identified it as Eulamia melanopterus (now Carcharinus melanopterus) – the black-tipped reef shark and reported it to be 7 feet (2.1 m) in length. He published the image of the shark featured in this blog post in the Hong Kong Naturalist.

The other shark incident mentioned in the Telegraph involved a fisherman being bitten by a shark on June 10th of 1930. The South China Morning Post (SCMP, June 10th 1930) reported:

A fisherman called Ho Sang was admitted into the Kwohg Wah
Hospital at Yaumati [Yau Ma Tei] on June 8th with severe injuries to his right arm. His uncle related the following incident. When fishing in their boat off Pak Sha O, near Tai Po, the younger man, Ho Sang, hooked a shark. He succeeded in raising it to the surface and was hauling it into the boat when the fish seized his right arm injuring it severely. No details are given as to the size of the shark or what happened to it after its attack on the fisherman.

 

Noctiluca scintillans Makes Global Headlines for HK

As reported by Apple Daily today, a recent bloom of the bioluminescent organism Noctiluca scintillans – often known as “Sea Sparkle” – and a frequent cause of red-tides in Hong Kong (recent posts here, here and here ), has occcured in the sea near Tai Po. The bloom has attracted more and more people hoping to capture the bioluminescence on camera. Some of the images and video have even made international media reports.

But the sudden influx of night-time visitors is causing some aggravation to villagers who are complaining about the noise nuisance. Many people have also been throwing rocks into the sea to agitate the single-celled organisms into sparkling, which is harming the local ecology.  While one or two stones thrown hardly make a difference, several hundred rocks hurled into the sea does create some damage. If you are reading this and planning to go and see the blooms, please DO NOT THROW STUFF IN THE SEA, NOT EVEN STONES. If you really want to see the sparkle then wade in to use your hands or a stick to agitate the water – but I don’t advise this either.

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Some villagers have now taken to blocking beaches. Up to 100 visitors are coming to the beaches and cars are now blocking lanes causing a major disturbance to village life.

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Advice on viewing Noctiluca scintillans in Hong Kong:

1. DO NOT THROW ANYTHING INTO THE SEA. If you want to agitate the bloom use a stick or branch to swirl the water. Or just watch out for waves which will do the same.

2. Respect local villagers. Do not be noisy and obnoxious. Do not block lanes

3. DO NOT LITTER. TAKE ONLY PICTURES AND VIDEO, LEAVE NOTHING BEHIND.

4.  Use a tripod and a slow shutter speed and high sensitivity (ISO) for long exposures to capture the full sparkle.5. If you can tame your urge to see the sea sparkle in person please do, it would really help the environment (and the villagers). You can just enjoy the images and videos floating around the internet,for example this (probably copied) video:

Click here to see irresponsible behaviour in the Apple Daily article ( so you know what not to do).

Taipo Whale Identified as Recently Discovered Omura’s Whale

A dead ten-metre whale that washed up near Tai Po in March has been identified as an Omura’s Whale specimen (also known as dwarf fin whale), a species that science knows very little about, reports Apple Daily.
In fact, until this discovery, only nine whales have been genetically confirmed to be of the Omura’s Whale species, which was discovered only in 2003.
Over the past nine months, researchers at CityU have been preparing the whale’s bones to be put on display on their campus. But due to the size of the carcass – it weighed 25 tons when it was first found – the process is still ongoing.
The backbreaking work includes soaking the bones for months and boiling them over 20 times.
CityU is planning on displaying the entire five-ton skeleton in front of its library.

Source: Apple Daily via Coconuts HK 23/12/2014

Featured image: Ocean Park Conservation Fund

Green groups protest against man-made beach

ON the 8th of October the Hong Kong Standard carried this article on a protest by green groups against the construction of an artificial beach at Lung Mei, Tai Po. The proposed HK$130 million “bathing beach” aims to satisfy demand for swimming facilities from nearby Tai Po.

The plans involves:

(a) a 200m long beach with a groin at each end of the beach;
(b) a beach building includes :
(i) public changing rooms and toilets;
(ii) shower rooms;
(iii) equipment/machinery stores for catamarans, motorized boats, beach
transporters, beach cleansing and sand levelling machines, etc;
(iv) dangerous goods stores; and
(v) ancillary facilities including management office, lookout/surveillance
post, first aid room, staff changing room/toilet, staff room/pantry, store
rooms, etc.
(c) retaining structures;
(d) refuse collection point;
(e) outdoor shower facilities;
(f) lookout towers;
(g) shark prevention net;
(h) a fee-paying public car park for about 100 private cars, 10 motorcycles
and 10 coaches;
(i) landscaped areas;
(j) drainage diversion of an existing box culvert and Lo Tsz River; and
(k) sewerage construction works.

(Download the 2005 Project Profile)

Artificial beaches classify as one of the stupidest uses of money and time ever dreamt up:

  1. The government amusingly calls this project “construction of a bathing beach”. It might look like a beach from a far, but as soon as you enter the water (to bathe) you will know what was there before. Anyone who has ever been swimming at the Tai Pak beach in Discovery Bay (artificial) will know this. Once in the water you will sink ankle-deep in smelly, fine mud! Equally it will not be a fine beach at Lung Mei once you are in the water…
  2. The dumping of sand will obliterate the existing flora and fauna which as green groups have already pointed out includes rare butterflies.
  3. Where will the sand come from?500,000 m3 will be dredged up about 200 from the Conservation Area at Tai Mei Tuk causing silting of the water which also damages that local environment. In addition the LoTsz River will be diverted and not 500 m away from the proposed diversion lies Hong Kong’s 4th largest mangrove area which is also designated as an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).
  4. Beaches occur where the currents and waves are strong enough so that only large grained sediment will be deposited. Small grained mud and silt gets carried off to somewhere quieter leaving the bigger sand grains behind. Dumping sand to create an artificial beach is not going to change the fact that it is not a tropical beach environment. Many artificial beaches turn out to be disappointing or even unpleasant for beach goers: sand flies, mosquitos , smelly mud in the water with unpleasant rotten-egg smell etc. or razor sharp rocks or shingle – all consequences of trying to force a tropical beach look onto  a different  environment e.g. a mangrove area,  mud flat, tidal beach etc.
  5. Who will pay for this nonsense? And why can this money not be spent on cleaning up Hong Kong’s toxic air?

Once again, Hong Kongers can only shake their heads at the incompetence of their government which spends HK$130 million to damage the environment beyond repair because its cheaper than building a swimming pool….

The Conservancy Association also has a good article on the issue here.

HKWildlife.net (Blog) has some more info in Chinese