(July 6 2013 – Hong Kong) Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong (OPCFHK) and City University of Hong Kong (CityU) co-organised the third year of Juvenile Horseshoe Crab Rearing Programme, leading over 700 students from 30 local secondary schools, to advocate for the conservation of the threatened horseshoe crabs and their habitat. Over 350 horseshoe crabs were released to their natural habitat to replenish their wild population. This year, the average survival rate of hand raised juveniles reached a record high of 76.2%, with nine schools achieved 100%. Some horseshoe crabs grew over 100% within six months, which allowed the microchip tagging to monitor their growth after release. The Foundation also mobilised over 180 teachers and students to remove marine debris and plastic trash from the mudflat and mangroves, to restore the habitat of horseshoe crabs.
Mr. Timothy NG Sau-kin, OPCFHK’s Deputy Director, stated that “Mudflats and mangroves at Shui Hau Wan are critically important for conservation because of their high level of biodiversity. Fiddler crabs, mudskippers, and even the endemic Romer’s tree frogs were recorded there. Most importantly, it is one of the last habitats of horseshoe crabs in Hong Kong. Shui Hau Wan has been threatened by human activities, marine debris and pollution. We are hoping to increase the horseshoe crab population and restore the habitat there by the release and the mudflat clean-up. With our continuous support to CityU’s scientific studies, we want to generate more useful evidence to prove that the site is ‘Site for Special Scientific Interest’ (SSSI), and list the horseshoe crabs under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance in Hong Kong, in order to protect this vulnerable species and their habitats in Hong Kong.”
Dr. Cheung Siu-kin, Associate Professor at the Department of Biology and Chemistry, CityU, said, “We are grateful that the students remarkably improved the survival rate to 76.2%, from last year’s 52.5%. Many participating students have developed in-depth understanding and are skillful on rearing horseshoe crabs. They managed to overcome challenges during the rearing process, including hatching brine shrimp larvae, feeding horseshoe crabs and assisting the horseshoe crabs to molt. They also developed a strong sentiment on animal care and understood the importance of conservation for this vulnerable species.”
“This year, the Foundation also organised a mudflat clean-up. We educated students about the ecosystem of the surrounding area and strengthened their understanding on the threats that horseshoe crabs are facing. As a result, students were inspired to make a change by adopting a green living style,” Ms Joe Cheung Ho-yi, Senior Community Education Officer of OPCFHK added, “We are very pleased to see the students’ strong commitment to the project. They also took their own initiative to produce promotional and educational activities including exhibitions and seminars, on horseshoe crab conservation to influence their peer groups and families.”
Mr. Ng concluded, “To further enhance public awareness on horseshoe crab conservation, the Foundation, CityU and Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) will jointly organise a horseshoe crab carnival, with educational exhibitions, art workshops and public seminars, at Hong Kong Wetland Park from August 7th to 18th. We want to call for more public support to conserve horseshoe crabs and the marine habitats by not consuming horseshoe crabs, keeping our waters and mudflats clean when engaging in coastal activities or water sports, not disturbing the horseshoe crabs in the wild. Together, we can make a difference!”