Conservation Day

Organised by Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong (OPCFHK), the 27th Ocean Park Conservation Day (Conservation Day) is an annual signature event that will be held on Nov 5-6 2022. The Conservation Day aims to build awareness to protect the natural environment and maintain local biodiversity. With this year’s theme of “Join hands for the conservation of freshwater turtles", we invite you to protect the local freshwater turtle together. By participating in the Conservation Day, you can learn more about the local freshwater turtles, understanding the threats they have been facing.

This year, you can also get a closer look at the Beale’s-eyed turtle, which is less than 100 in number in the wild in Hong Kong, at the newly launched freshwater turtle educational exhibition.

Educational booths and workshops will be arranged for parents and children to learn about conservation work and the importance of protecting the natural environment, which visitors will award special gifts upon finishing. There will also be scientists and conservationists sharing to the public their conservation research and effectiveness on different species, so that the public can understand more about the importance of scientific research, and educate the younger generation to cherish the environment and maintain biodiversity.

Natural anti-mosquito bag

Natural Handkerchief Tie-Dye Workshop

According to The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, over half of the freshwater turtle species in the world are under threat. Native species to Hong Kong such as the Chinese three-striped box turtle and big-headed turtle are categorised as Critically Endangered, meaning they are facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.

Beale's eyed Turtle
IUCN Conservation Status: Endangered

The Beale’s eyed turtle has a number of survival tricks under its shell. First of all, there are two pairs of “eye spots” (Ocelli) on the back of its head near the neck, which could be a means of deceiving potential predators. Other than its eye spots, the Beale’s eyed turtle also has a scent gland that gives off a foul odour as a deterrent to ward off predators.

Sadly, a recent survey found that there were less than 100 individuals in the local population, meaning that the conservation of the Beale’s eyed turtle and their habitats should be a priority.   

Photo Credit: James KWOK

Chinese three-striped Box Turtle
IUCN Conservation Status:  Critically Endangered

The skin of the Chinese three-striped box turtle  is bright orange and the beige shell has three black strips. . Thanks to the hinged plastron, a box turtle can shut itself completely within its shell when threatened, protecting it from predators.

Unfortunately, the brightly coloured Chinese three-lined box turtle is said to bring wealth and good fortune, as their name in Chinese means “money returns”. There is also amyth that its plastron has great medicinal value, even being able to cure cancer. As such, they are in great demand in the illegal wildlife trade.

Photo Credit: wild.life_toni

Reeves’ Turtle
IUCN Conservation Status: Endangered

The carapace of the Reeves’ turtle has three distinct longitudinal kneels, and their head and neck have yellow stripes and blotches. Males gets darker in colour as they age and can secret an unpleasant odour. Reeves’ turtle was once commonly found in Hong Kong, but as rural area began to be developed, more and more wetlands disappeared, driving the decline of the species both locally and throughout the region.

Photo Credit: Henry CHAN

Chinese soft-shelled Turtle
IUCN Conservation Status: Vulnerable

Interestingly, the Chinese name for the Chinese soft-shelled turtle refers to someone who falls for money scams. Perhaps this is because the animal is rather ungainly out of the water and that it lacks a protective hard shell. In the water, however, soft-shelled turtles are fully equipped for aquatic life. Its flattened body and leathery shell allow it to stay hidden under the sand or mud, and the turtle’s elongated neck and razor-sharp mandibles mean that it can easily strike prey swimming above them, making them a formidable predator.

Photo Credit: Holly WONG

Big-headed turtle
IUCN Conservation Status: Critically Endangered

The oversized head gives this species both its common and scientific name. In fact, the head is so large that cannot be retracted into its shell. With its fierce looking face and raptor-like beak, one might think the big-headed turtle is a ferocious carnivore. Compared to other freshwater turtles, the big-headed turtle has a flatter body, a physical feature that allows them to travel in fast-flowing streams or hide in rock crevices. However, while it is true that they prey on other steam life such as fish and shrimps, recent studies have found that adults also eat wild fruit and seeds. The seeds that pass through the turtles also have a higher germination rate, thereby encouraging the growth of local vegetation. It goes to show that you should not judge a turtle by how it looks. You might even say that, in its own way, the big-headed turtle plants trees.

Photo Credit: Holly WONG



Past Events: