HKBioBlitz Media Coverage: HK First BioBlitz, Let Students Experience an Invaluable Class outside Classroom (The HKWildlife Magazine Jan 2016)

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Hong Kong gives us perception of “concrete jungle”, can you ever imagine that there are uncountable wildlife in green area of Hong Kong? Students from local and international schools followed experts in BioBlitz and found hundreds of species, including some rare species like mangrove horseshoe crabs. Experienced an invaluable class outside classroom.

21 coral species, 170 plant species, 32 bird species and 104 moth species are part of the result of Hong Kong’s first BioBlitz. 50 experts leading 300 secondary students recorded 578 species in 30 hours, covering marine, terrestrial and intertidal habitats, in Tai Tam site of special scientific interest (SSSI). Students can know more about little creatures and environment surrounding them. They can also know more about what experts have done on conservation and research.

Prof Gray Williams and his team from Swire Institute of Marine Science of HKU divided into three teams and conducted a comprehensive marine survey. First team arrived 2 hours earlier to grab sediments by ship in seabed of Tai Tam Harbour. They then worked together with scholars from HKBU and students to observe worms and other invertebrates under microscopes. Another team led students in conducting intertidal survey. They observed sea snails, crabs and mangrove. The third team dived to conduct fish and coral survey. “One minute on stage takes ten years” can describe the hard work behind the scene of identifying species in short period of time. Students were amazed by sea urchin and fiddler crab. Experts had first official record of coral in Tai Tam.

Moth expert Dr Roger Kendrick found excited moth species in this survey. He set the equipments at night fall on the first day. Then released and identified the moths at 11pm on the same day and 5am on the second day. He recorded 104 moth species and 2 of them are extremely rare yet native to only Hong Kong. In previous moth survey, Fustis sterlingi was only known from Tai Tam Bay and Stanley. It’s the 4th global record!

Apart from the contribution of experts, students used their smartphones in surveying. Students can send photos of wildlife with information of the location, group name and species name by WhatsApp to central database. Photos will then be uploaded by team to iSpot and can become a biological record. Looking at their photos of fungi, bird and mosquito, we feel like joining their survey journey together. One school group snapped a picture of mangrove horseshoe crab with Ocean Park Conservation Foundation which is the first time ever discovered in Hong Kong Island. The discovery of horseshoe crab juveniles indicated it’s a healthy mudflat.

BioBlitz co-founder Ms. Jenna Ho Marris participated in UK BioBlitz last year and brought this concept to Hong Kong. She said “In fact, we expect much richer biodiversity at other sites all around Hong Kong for example New Territories and especially Outlying Islands eg Lamma, Cheung Chau and of course Lantau. Hong Kong has over 70 SSSIs and Tai Tam is only one of them. What would we find if only we take time to observe and record!”

This unique event comes as part of the ‘Biodiversity Festival 2015’, an Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) lead project that encompasses many events, exhibitions and seminars, and is a major section of Hong Kong’s Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (BSAP). Project Coordinator of the HKBioBlitz Ms. Bel Li stated “One main aim of BioBlitz is to collect data that will promote further research and be used by the AFCD to further its BSAP commitments with possible wide-ranging policy amendments; from site of special scientific interest (SSSI) management, curricula development to general conservation and protection.”

More details :
HK First BioBlitz, Let Students Experience an Invaluable Class outside Classroom
‘The HKWildlife Magazine Vol 8 ‘ prepared by

本港第一屆「生態速查」 讓學生走出課室 上一堂目不暇给的環保教育課
<<香港自然生態雜誌- Vol8>> 香港自然生態論壇 出版

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HKBioBlitz Media Coverage: Hong Kong Real “Ant-Man” Not Even Scared by Ant Bites (Apple Daily 8 Nov 2015)

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Last month saw Hong Kong’s first BioBlitz in which different wildlife experts and 300 secondary students worked together in Tai Tam for 30 hours to discover local biodiversity and record 578 species. Students got to know the creatures surrounding them from wildlife experts.

“Ant-Man” Dr. Benoit Guénard, Assistant Professor at the Hong Kong University School of Biological Sciences, who has focused on ant research for 13 years, was one of the experts in this event. He explained this 30-hour BioBlitz is a brief scientific research for the public to know more about the environment through conducting biological surveys. During his school guided tours in this event, Dr. Benoit introduced different ant species and their interesting characteristics to secondary students such as the nest building process of Weaver ants.

Weaver ants occur in forest trees. They make ball-shaped nests by making chains of their own bodies to bridge leaves and interweaving the gaps with the silk of the larvae. When they are scared, they spray formic acid from their abdomen to attack the enemy. Our reporter was also attacked by Weaver ants during Dr. Benoit’s demonstration and felt their sting!

Apart from ants, the biodiversity of Tai Tam Tuk is high. Tai Tam Tuk is listed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by Hong Kong Government in 1975 and is one of the earliest SSSIs. HK BioBlitz co-founder Jenna Ho Marris said Tai Tam Tuk is only 30-minute travel time from the city but is also where you can find the last mangrove on Hong Kong Island. She hoped the findings can encourage the public to know more about Hong Kong’s rich urban biodiversity.

The first BioBlitz was held in the United States in 1996. There are now more than 13 countries organizing this event. National Geographic sponsers this event every year in the US. Preliminary results for the first BioBlitz in Hong Kong recorded 578 species including 32 bird species, 19 fish species, 170 plant species and 106 moth species.

Hong Kong BioBlitz is part of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department’s first ever Biodiversity Festival ending with the Hong Kong Biodiversity Carnival on 15 November 2015 in Kowloon Park to promote biodiversity, come and join this fun day out!

Please find the link to Apple Daily Article and Video「本港真蟻俠 俾蟻咬無有怕」 here:

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