Asia Minute: Hong Kong’s Surprising Marine Biodiversity

55 minutes ago

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The waters around the Hawaiian Islands are rich in biodiversity. Other stretches of the Pacific Ocean are also home to many species of marine life. Those include more isolated parts of the ocean. But one location is more of a surprise. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

When it comes to marine biodiversity, the waters around Hong Kong are a showcase.  That news comes from a year and a half long study by scientists at the University of Hong Kong’s Swire Institute of Marine Science.  They found nearly 6,000 species of marine life—which is more than a quarter of the species found throughout all of China.

Researchers were stunned by their discovery—with one saying “For its size, Hong Kong’s biodiversity is disproportionately rich. We’ve got hard coral beds, mangroves and mudflats, and rocky reefs and estuaries.”  In fact, Hong Kong has documented 84 separate species of coral in its waters—that’s more than in the entire Caribbean Sea.

It’s true that Hong Kong is built up with skyscrapers and water pollution has been an issue over the years, but the city is also located at the center of three ocean currents—and has a subtropical climate—both of which are attractive for many species. 

The study urges government officials to help preserve at least ten-percent of the local marine environment by the year 2020.  Right now, less than 2% of Hong Kong’s waters are under government protection.  The research was published in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation.