Marine Fauna and Ecology in Hong Kong

The aim of this web page is to introduce the marine fauna and ecology in Hong Kong, from information compiled by students through their efforts in the Final Year Projects, as well as from our research studies. We hope to generate a wider interest for the appreciation of diversity of our marine animals and their ecology in Hong Kong. Studying classification and taxonomy, in particular, can be painful and boring. Yet, this is an important element in understanding the biodiversity of our ecosystems. Using the various feature of the web, we try to depict the different groups of marine animals that can be found locally, in a more vivid manner. There are basic information of morphological features of the animal groups, images of whole animals and/or specific body parts, dynamic keys to family, genus or species levels, and other data related to ecological or commercial significance.

"Save our horseshoe crabs" from Dr Paul Shin

Horseshoe crabs are living fossils, which were dated back to 455 million years ago (about 200 million years before the appearance of dinosaurs on Earth). At present, there are only four living species and in Hong Kong, two species are found. The loss of spawning and nursery habitats owing to coastal developments has resulted in dramatic decrease in these animals in Asia Pacific, including Hong Kong. To prevent their extinction locally, our laboratory (under the leadership of Dr. Paul Shin and Dr. S.G. Cheung) has initiated a programme to artificially breed and enhance the populations in the wild. Our group has also collaborated with the Ocean Park Conservation Fund (OPCF) to raise the public awareness of the importance in conservation of these animals. Two TV documentaries on the plights of these animals and our work have also been produced by the Radio Television Hong Kong (e.g., see

Prof  Kenneth Lo

Luminescent rhenium(I) diimine estradiol complexes as novel probes for estrogen receptors

Dr Y W Lam

Tubulin staining (green) in HeLa cells. Red is DAPI-stained DNA. In our department, we ask our undergraduate students to do this staining in lab classes because you cannot fail to produce beautiful images that show the amazing level of organization and complexity of cells.

Dr. Chi-Kit Andy Siu

Electrochemical activation of carbon dioxide molecules in tailor-made nanoscale water droplets in a mass spectrometer can produce hydrated carbon dioxide radical anions, which can then be utilized as one-carbon building blocks in organic synthesis. This picture illustrates an example of such nanoscale electrochemistry of carbon dioxide for the selective formic acid synthesis. Theoretical calculations demonstrated that a hydrogen-atom transfer from a thiol group to the carbon dioxide radical anion in the nanoscale environment is a fast and energetically favorable process (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2010, 122, 8433-8435).

Dr Margaret B Murphy

Three-day-old marine medaka fish (Oryzias melastigma) embryos. Embryos are useful and important in ecotoxicology because they are usually the life stage that is most sensitive to contaminant effects. Decreased embryo survival due to chemical exposure can reduce population size and stability, and disturbance of normal development processes by contaminants can reduce the fitness of individual organisms, including their abilities to avoid predation and reproduce, thereby also affecting the health of population. Toxicity tests using the embryonic and larval life stages provide crucial information on the ecological effects of contaminants.