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OCEAN PARK AND MAINLAND PARTNERS REAFFIRM CONSERVATION MISSION FOLLOWING MORTALITY OF A CHINESE STURGEON

2009-01-03

(Hong Kong – 3 January 2009) Ocean Park reports the death of one Chinese sturgeon, which died on 2 January 2009. While saddened by the incident, Ocean Park Chief Executive, Tom Mehrmann, and Professor Wei Qi-wei, Director of the Yangtze River Fisheries Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Fisheries Science, reaffirmed their respective commitments to work closely with each other as conservation partners to continue the conservation and research efforts of Chinese sturgeons, in particular, to study the transition Chinese sturgeons make between fresh and sea water in their life cycle, under a human care environment. This is the only such research project for this fish in the world, and will have great significance in the conservation and sustainability of the species.

Regarding the incident, initial investigations indicated several factors could be involved, including the different physiological reactions of individual fish during the process of salination. Ocean Park immediately notified and conferred with the authorities on this incident, including the Mainland's National Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Association, the Yangtze River Fisheries Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Fisheries Science, the Beijing Aquarium and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department of Hong Kong

The Chinese sturgeon was sent to Ocean Park among a collection of this species in 2008 as the key element of the joint research project among Ocean Park and its conservation partners led by the National Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Association and comprising the Yangtze River Fisheries Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Fisheries Science, as well as the Beijing Aquarium.

The objective for this partnership is to promote conservation research on the Chinese sturgeons. As part of the overall conservation plan, Ocean Park will provide a research platform to study the migration and adaptation of Chinese sturgeons between sea and fresh water environments within a human care environment. In addition, Ocean Park will use the Park’s exhibit to showcase the species and to spread the education and conservation messages to the millions of visiting guests from all over the world.

Mr Mehrmann said, “The research project enables us to work with our Mainland partners and enhance our knowledge about the conservation of Chinese sturgeons. With the team’s expertise and dedication, Ocean Park is committed to working closely with our Mainland experts to support and contribute to the ongoing research and conservation efforts of this species.”

Professor Wei Qi-wei said, “Over the years, the study of Chinese sturgeons has always focused on either the conservation of Chinese sturgeons living in the wild, or, of fresh-water Chinese sturgeons under a human care environment. With the support from the National Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Association, Ocean Park was made a partner in the study and conservation of the species in the Greater China region, opening up a new scientific research horizon, so that we are able to explore how to simulate the transition Chinese sturgeons make in the wild from fresh- to sea-, and then fresh water again, to lay eggs. As study and conservation efforts on this subject has just started, all of us still need to accumulate further experience. This conservation study is a complicated process. To that end, and to strengthen efforts to facilitate this new initiative, Yangtze River Fisheries Research Institute will continue to commit resources to support Ocean Park."

Mr Mehrmann said, “I cannot express how grateful we are to our Mainland experts and partners for their support and trust in us. We are truly honoured to be able to participate in this important research endeavour. While it is inevitable that we will encounter some naturally-occurring challenges along the way, we will move forward in our research efforts and to take the knowledge about the conservation of Chinese sturgeons to a new level.”

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About Ocean Park
Ocean Park is Hong Kong’s unique homegrown theme park with a heritage of delivering family fun and fond memories. Since its opening in January 1977 as a non-profit organization, Ocean Park has developed itself to be a world-class attraction connecting people with nature, and recognized for its animal husbandry, research and relationship with the community. Over 90 million people have visited Hong Kong's premier park since its inception and Ocean Park has remained committed to offer adults and children experiences that blend entertainment with education and conservation. Part of the proceeds from the Ocean Park admission tickets and some retail items will go to Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong to support its wildlife conservation projects