After a notable absence of just over six years, a single seahorse was recorded in the waters around the pier at Hoi Ha Wan on Saturday night (14 July) during student training and again Tuesday afternoon (17 July). The animal was a typically sized (~20 cm) adult male Hippocampus kuda with a full brood pouch. In the seahorse realm it is the male who is responsible for carrying the young and giving birth to the “pups”.
Seahorses used to be quite common in this area, but increases in pollution levels and disturbances are reported to have driven them away. Continued water quality monitoring of the nearby beach area has revealed a gradual drop of e coli levels since the middle of last year after ramping up since the monitoring started in 2011. Nutrient algae levels have also been dropping since January this year. The coral condition is also showing solid recovery after the large die-off that occurred in February 2016.
Unfortunately irresponsible people are still discarding used disposable batteries in this area. The toxic chemicals inside batteries leach out impacting the surrounding area. It is believed that this is one of the impacts effecting breeding seahorse. After this finding a careful seabed cleanup has been scheduled for next weekend to remove batteries and other rubbish around the pier.
It is important to continue protecting both the Marine and Country parks of Hong Kong, especially biodiversity hot spots like Hoi Ha to provide a chance for younger Hong Kong generations to explore and appreciate them. Let’s hope that the seahorse can reestablish a healthy population in this area