Conservation group Bloom finds 22 new reef fish species

Local | 26 Jun 2019 7:08 pm

A conservation group says it has found 22 new species of reef fish in Hong Kong waters, but will keep the location a secret to protect the fish.
The Bloom Association said it sent more than 100 divers to carry out a five-year underwater survey at more than 50 locations, and found species including bluespine unicornfish, luminous cardinalfish, and monster shrimpgoby. 
None of the 22 species was previously thought to live in Hong Kong waters.
The group’s Marine Programme Director, Stan Shea, said he hopes the discovery will help raise public awareness about biodiversity in the SAR.
He said the group had expected to find some new species, as it had taken reference from a database in the region, but the final outcome was still surprising. 
“Maybe some species were too small o be found before, or not many surveys had been done in Hong Kong. So we just try to bridge the gap,” he told RTHK’s Wendy Wong. 
“There was a statistical analysis saying Hong Kong can maybe have more than 500 reef fish species, but up to now we only have an official record of about 300 to 400 species. So we were kind of expecting that we can find these species,” he explained. 
“However, only within five years, we already found 22. That was a little bit surprising,” Shea said. 
He said climate change may have affected the water temperature and changed the distribution of fish, and he hopes the latest data can be used by academics to do more research in Hong Kong. 
Shea said they also want to show the beautiful side of Hong Kong to the public.
And, with the new data, he said the government will hopefully be able to identify areas with rich marine biodiversity and set up more protected marines areas. 
He added that the group will only provide details of their survey to the government or researchers who approach them, instead of making the information public, for fear that "hungry people" may try and catch, sell or eat the fish.

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