Sharp Island North overtakes Hoi Ha Wan in coral coverage

December 07, 2015 15:04
Scientists said Coral Beach in Hoi Ha Wan saw its coral coverage slide amid numerous construction projects near the area. Photos: Leung Ching Yau Alex/Flickr and GovHK

Sharp Island North (橋嘴洲北) was found to have the highest coral coverage in the latest Hong Kong Reef Check conducted by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

The island has a coral coverage of 79.5 percent, surpassing Coral Beach in Hoi Ha Wan (海下灣), which took the top spot in last year's study at 79.4 percent but only managed a 72.3 percent coverage this year, Ming Pao Daily reported.

Marine ecologist Law Him-yan said the slide of Coral Beach in the rankings could be attributed to deteriorating water quality caused by several construction projects nearby.

The four-month Reef Check commenced in June this year and was carried out by over 700 voluntary divers on 33 select locations, with nine of them within the Hoi Ha Wan, Yan Chau Tong and Tung Ping Chau marine parks.

The sites varied greatly in coral coverage, from 19.5 percent to 79.5 percent. Nineteen of the sites recorded high coral coverage of over 50 percent.

The average health index of the coral reefs edged down to 4.23, down from last year's 4.34. Still, it is well above the general average value of 3, indicating the corals are in healthy and stable condition.

Out of the 20 indicator species, wrasses, groupers, butterfly fish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers and cowries are most commonly found in the survey sites.

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