Did you know that there are more species of hard coral in Hong Kong waters than in the Caribbean? Most of them are scattered in the eastern and north-eastern waters of Hong Kong.
Corals are a protected species here but face a lot of threats. One threat is anchor damage caused by boaters unaware of their presence. Anchoring on the coral reef will simply rip the reef apart.
Each year an average of more than 10% of preventable coral damage is from boat anchors. There are already three coral areas in Hong Kong designated with yellow triangular buoys telling boaters to stay away from the coral area. Two are in Sai Kung. These have already been installed for more than 10 years and the anchor damage measured in these areas now is negligible.
In late April over the course of three days I helped the Oceanway Corporation with the installation process of twelve marker buoys in another three locations in Sai Kung waters.
The sites were chosen after an extensive five-year investigation and two-year survey was carried out to determine areas that would benefit the most from no-anchor marker buoys. This AFCD project has been ongoing for quite some time with the detailed science, logistics, legal issues and maintenance considerations clearly supporting markers in lieu of mooring buoys.
This was my first job as an intern with Oceanway and my first attempt at doing any real environmental work. I found that there is not only a lot of diving work to do, but also a lot of strenuous work behind the scenes to make the installation possible.
The buoys are anchored using HELIX storm anchors. We needed to use a very large underwater hydraulic screwdriver with 8 tonnes of torque to wind in each 1.5 metre long sand screw. The special buoy is tied to the HELIX with a strong rope.
The areas with buoys are Bluff Island, Sharp Island North, Sharp Island South, Shelter Island and Nine Pin.
As the season for junk trips and boating is here I ask that mariners honour these no-anchor areas so we can preserve our beautiful reefs. I’ve done my part, now it’s your turn. Saving the reefs is well worth it!