A team of ten alumni and staff from CIE participated in the “HKBU 2014 Reef Check”, a survey organized by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) to monitor the health of our coral communities in Hong Kong during the summer break.
Reef Check is a global initiative to track changes – growth, declines, and stochastic impacts on reef systems, and this data is primarily obtained through this annual reef check event by citizen scientists, and a marine biologist who would guide them to feed survey data into a global database.
The CIE team, led by Mr. Keith Kei from the Division of Applied Science who is also a coral specialist set off to Sharp Island（橋咀洲）to do the survey. Together, they participated primarily in the coral cover estimation. “The coral cover is high, suggesting the community at this site is relatively healthy, but there is some noticeable coral bleaching in quite a few colonies, especially Pavona decussata（板葉雀屏珊瑚）, usually considered quite a hardy species. The coral bleaching (white appearance) – due to the loss of the symbiotic algae zooxanthellae（蟲黃藻）, may be associated to the recent sustained hot weather we have been having this summer”, explained Dr. Stephen Cartwright, lecturer of Environmental Conservation who is also a team member of the Reef Check.
Coral communities are rich in biodiversity – some of the sightings of the day by team members, included a blue Spotted Stingray, a large Sabah Grouper, and a sea snake in addition to the many invertebrates (crabs, urchins, sea cucumbers) and vertebrates (many different tropical coral reef fishes) that make up the rich biodiversity found in these underwater Eden in Hong Kong.