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.”