Ocean Park Hong Kong

Acropora Corals

Chinese Name: 鹿角珊瑚
English Name: Acropora Corals
 
What is Coral?
Although corals appear in different shapes and arrangements, they are actually a kind of coelenterate with symmetrical bodies. The life unit of coral is a polyp. Thousands of polyps group together to form a compact colony which we see as “coral”. Therefore, different compositions and arrangements of polyps create a variety of  coral shapes, such as plating, branching, massive (brain-like) etc.

Acropora Corals:
Acropora corals are some of the commonly seen hard corals in Hong Kong, with branching growth forms which look like antlers.
Corals in Hong Kong:
Hong Kong, as a famous coastal city, has a rich diversity of coral species. Up to now, a total of 84 species of hard corals and 67 species of soft corals and gorgonians were recorded. This number is comparable to diving hotspots in other parts of the world. Hong Kong was once a prosperous fishing port. Many commercially-valuable fishes, such as golden threadfin bream, groupers, wrasses etc, rely on a healthy coral ecosystem for reproduction.
 
Distribution:
Most of the corals are located in eastern Hong Kong near the South China Sea where salinity is relatively stable. Fewer are found in western Hong Kong facing the Pearl River, where salinity fluctuates with the seasons.
Threats and Conservation Status:
Global warming and pollution are major threats that lead to coral bleaching. Unsuitable environmental conditions and rising temperatures cause the zooxanthellae to leave the coral, resulting in a loss of colour and nutrients. Apart from temperature change, excessive carbon dioxide in the air dissolving in water forms carbonic acid, which results in ocean acidification and prohibits the formation of the calcium carbonate skeleton in corals. Coral is also under threat from explosive fishing methods, cyanide, improper fishing activities etc. Coral reefs provide food and shelter for about 25% of marine life. The disappearance of corals may threaten many marine lives as a result.

Ocean Park and Coral Conservation:
Ocean Park works with universities as a laboratory base and nurturing ground for Coral Environmental Stress Testing. Ocean Park has been cultivating local coral species, Acropora corals in the Aquarium for stress testing and coral rehabilitation research. In 2020, Ocean Park will organise the “Ocean Park Conservation Alliance” and invite secondary schools to participate in coral conservation by applying artificial intelligence technology in integrating coral data and establishing a Hong Kong coral artificial identification system.

Let’s Protect Acropora Corals
Sunscreen is a silent killer to the ocean, it disrupts the growth and reproduction of coral.  To conserve our beautiful corals, let’s choose to cover up our body with sum-protective clothing next time we go to beaches and help corals to regain their colors.