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An Introduction to the Cape d'Aguilar Marine Reserve, Hong Kong

An Introduction to the Cape d'Aguilar Marine Reserve, Hong Kong

Brian Morton
Elizabeth Harper
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 108
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  • Book Info
    An Introduction to the Cape d'Aguilar Marine Reserve, Hong Kong
    Book Description:

    The Marine Parks Bill was passed into law by Hong Kong's Legislative Council on 31 May 1995. This piece of conservation legislation will allow for the designation of marine parks at Hoi Ha Wan and Yau Chau Tong and a marine reserve at Cape d'Aguilar. Recommended for designation as Hong Kong's first marine reserve, the shores of Cape d'Aguilar are geologically interesting and biologically diverse. Such a diversity of life results from the variety of habitats within a small area such as an intertidal pool full of corals, an array of sand and rock habitats in a protected bay, and the eastern shores which are exposed to the waves of the South China Sea. In this book the geological history of the area is described, as are the forces which have created this unique place. The fascinating marine life is explained in the context of the need to protect its biological diversity. Although this book is designed for the general reader, it should also be of value to students and researchers who wish to study further this unique part of Hong Kong's environment.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-186-6
    Subjects: Biological Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iii)
    (pp. iv-iv)
    (pp. v-v)
    Brian Morton and Elizabeth Harper
    (pp. vi-vii)

    The seas and shores of Hong Kong, located on the northern rim of the South China Sea, are home to a rich variety of marine life. A sub-tropical climate, a varied geology, proximity to the Pearl River and the seasonal influence of currents in its surrounding sea, combine to create a wide diversity of marine habitats in a small area. Habitat diversity fosters plant and animal diversity so that an enormous array of marine life exists. Such diversity was until recently little studied and barely understood but is now the focus of a growing interest by local and overseas marine...

  6. The cape d’aguilar peninsula and its history
    (pp. 1-4)

    The Cape d’Aguilar Peninsula (Plate 1) is named after Major-General G.C. d’Aguilar who took up appointment as Lieutenant Governor of Hong Kong and Commander of the British troops in China during late 1843, soon after Hong Kong was founded in 1841. The Cape d’Aguilar Peninsula forms the eastern arm, the Stanley Peninsula the western arm, of Tai Tam Harbour and Bay (Figure 1). This is a dog-leg shaped drowned river valley, created by the rise in sea level, by about 10 m, after the retreat of the last ice age some ten thousand years ago. Much of the northern end...

  7. Hong kong’s climate
    (pp. 5-5)

    Hong Kong’s climate is sub-tropical being influenced by the cold and dry northeast monsoon in winter and the hot, wet, southeast monsoon in summer. Important climatic features are identified in Table 1. The prevailing wind directions and speeds of the two monsoons influence the sea and, as we shall see, are critical to our understanding of the forces that have shaped the Cape d’Aguilar Marine Reserve. Under the influence of the northeast monsoon, air temperatures fall to a mean minimum of 15.2°C in February. Under the influence of the southeast monsoon, air temperatures rise to a mean maximum of 27.9°C...

  8. The sea climate
    (pp. 6-8)

    Sea surface temperatures generally follow those of the air, with a slight time lag in summer, so that the mean minimum temperature of 16.6°C is recorded in February and the mean maximum of 28.8°C in September. Sea surface temperature is not wholly dictated by the prevailing air temperature because of the interplay of water currents. The northeast monsoon pushes down cold East China Coast Waters (the Taiwan Current) in winter while the southeast monsoon pushes up warm South China Sea Water (the Hainan Current) from the Gulf of Hainan in summer. Similarly, a finger of the warm Kuroshio Current may...

  9. Geology of hong kong and the cape d’aguilar marine reserve
    (pp. 9-18)

    In order to understand the rock formations seen in both the Cape d’Aguilar Marine Reserve and those in Hong Kong as a whole, it is necessary to consider the geological history of the region, in particular its setting in terms of plate tectonics.

    The surface of the earth is split into a number of rigid plates which move around its surface on the mobile mantle beneath. Radioactive decay and heat from the cooling core provide the heat source which sets up the convection cells within the mantle, and it is these which cause this motion. Plates consist most often of...

  10. Geomorphology of the marine reserve
    (pp. 19-21)

    Since their formation, over 65 million years ago, the rocks which make up Cape d’Aguilar, have been subject to erosion and weathering. Younger, later deposited rocks have been stripped off and the intrusive granodiorites and rhyolites brought to the land surface by erosion of the rocks into which they were intruded.

    One of the most dramatic physical changes to have occurced over geological history is the fluctuations in sea level, even in relatively recent times. In very recent geological history, the earth has been in the grips of an ice age. Although during this time Hong Kong was not covered...

  11. The vegetation of the peninsula
    (pp. 22-25)

    Cape d’Aguilar has a rich flora. Of particular interest are the grasses, shrubs and creepers which inhabit the coastal margin (Plates 12 and 13). A recent student survey recorded over eighty species of plants from around the Cape d’Aguilar Marine Reserve during a period in January and February. Over the entire year there are almost certainly many more present.

    The coastal margin is a difficult zone for higher plants to colonize. Plants which attempt to grow here have to cope with exposure to intense solar radiation and strong winds, thin soils and sea-blown salt. As we have shown, Cape d’Aguilar...

  12. The cape d’aguilar shores
    (pp. 26-68)

    The tidal rise and fall of the sea has a great impact on the vertical distribution of plants and animals on the shore. Different abilities to tolerate varying levels of desiccation and high temperatures determine that part of the shore which organisms can occupy. These tolerances define bands or zones of plants and animals extending roughly parallel to the shoreline and which experience broadly different conditions. Zones can, therefore, be defined by the sessile organisms which dominate them. Three major zones may usually be identified: the Littoral fringe which is high on the shore and is dominated by lichens, encrusting...

  13. The fishes of lobster bay
    (pp. 69-71)

    Hitherto, all research on Hong Kong’s fish fauna has been conducted using a trawl net. Very little is known about the fishes occupying habitats other than the flat sea bed. Recently, however Leung (1994) has conducted a survey of Lobster Bay with different gear to catch and identify a wider variety of fish from different habitats. In a two year survey, Leung identified 111 species belonging to 80 genera and 45 families. Two species, that is, the Rock fish (Sebasticus marmoratus) and the Rabbit fish (Siganus oramin) illustrated in Figures 8 and 9, respectively, dominated the catch accounting for 75%...

  14. Birds of the cape d’aguilar marine reserve
    (pp. 72-74)

    Within a small area, there is a great variety of habitats available at Cape d’Aguilar, both within the sea environment of the marine reserve and the surrounding land which is vegetated by coastal scrub grading into thicket and, even, to the west in the grounds of Hong Kong Telecom into pockets of forest. Many species of birds exploit such a range of habitats (Plate 32). Morton and McChesney (1993) record fifty-five species of birds from the marine reserve area and there are typical land-based species such as partridges and quails, for example, the Chinese francolin (Francolinus pintadeanus), doves (Columbia livia...

  15. Reptiles and mammals
    (pp. 75-75)

    As yet there has not been a comprehensive survey of the amphibians, reptiles and mammals of the land areas adjacent to the Cape d’Aguilar Marine Reserve.

    Snakes, such as the Rat snake (Ptyas mucosus) and Cobra (Naja naja) are seen regularly and one night a Burmese python (Python molurus bivittatus) crossed the road near to Hong Kong Telecom.

    Hillside rats and unidentified civet cats occur around the Residence of the Swire Institute of Marine Science and, once, a Chinese leopard cat (Felis bengalensis) visited the building. A shrew (Suncus murinus) was caught inside the Swire Institute of Marine Science for...

  16. The cape d’aguilar marine reserve in context
    (pp. 76-80)

    Land based protected areas are given various names which include: ‘National park’, ‘Nature reserve’, and ‘Wildlife sanctuary’. Most people will have heard of the Yellowstone National Park and the great national parks of central Africa, such as the Ngorogorro Crater, but in reality only about 3.2% of the earth’s landmass is protected. In Hong Kong there are twenty-one country parks which, surprisingly, encompass some 40% of the land area. There is also the Tai Po Kau Forest Nature Reserve and 50 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), twenty-seven of which are marine, for example, Cape d’Aguilar. The 300 hectare Mai...

    (pp. 81-90)
  18. Index
    (pp. 91-100)