Calling all budding conservationists – Ocean Park is proud to present its new conservation and education programme, Ocean Park Conservation Chill Club! With a mission to protect three local species in Hong Kong including the Acropora coral, green turtle and golden birdwing butterfly, Ocean Park is mobilising young people aged between 12 and 29 years old to co-create the biggest-ever conservation programme in local schools over the coming academic year.
To get the ball rolling, the Park is now inviting young people from secondary schools and higher education institutions to sign up for the initiative. Featuring an interesting line-up of ideation, training and hands-on activities, the Ocean Park Conservation Chill Club aims to spark young people’s curiosity about conservation, inspire changes in some everyday habits and nurture champions of biodiversity in Hong Kong with a focus on three signature species.
Help Save Acropora Corals
Students will get to know why corals are the lifeblood of the seas, and how incredibly important they are to ocean ecosystems since they provide food and shelter to an amazing 25 per cent of all marine life on the planet.
Boasting an impressive diversity, 84 species of reef-building corals have been recorded in Hong Kong, and Acropora corals are one of the most commonly seen corals here. Some species of corals are listed as Vulnerable or Near Threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Sadly, corals are under immense threat from human activities. Activities leading to water pollution, in particular, can significantly stunt coral growth. Another major threat comes in the form of an often-neglected pollutant – chemical sunscreen, which may contain toxic ingredients that are detrimental to corals.
With Ocean Park actively working with local universities to support coral breeding, research and restoration, the Ocean Park Conservation Chill Club offers a platform for students to play their part in protecting corals by offering their assistance to local organisations, while gaining hugely valuable hands-on wildlife conservation fieldwork experience at the same time. They will work alongside scientific professionals to look into the application of artificial intelligence to integrate coral data, with the aim of establishing a much needed artificial intelligence system on coral identification for Hong Kong.
Protect the Precious Green Turtle
Did you know that the magnificent and precious green turtle is the second largest turtle on earth and is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Endangered?
Perhaps more rarely known among Hongkongers is the fact that it is also the only known turtle species that actively breed in Hong Kong waters. However, living in Hong Kong’s busy waterways can be dangerous for the turtles as they are constantly threatened by ghost nets, marine debris, ship propellers and other man-made obstacles, such as harmful disposable plastics floating in the water which can be easily ingested by green turtles, causing them to suffocate.
Since 2000, Ocean Park has been working closely with the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department on the rescue and rehabilitation of turtles that are victims of stranding and illegal trading. To assist, the Ocean Park Conservation Chill Club will invite secondary school students to grow nutritious vegetables for their consumption. What’s more, students may get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in the release of rehabilitated turtles to the sea after they have been treated at the Park.
Nurture the Golden Birdwing Butterfly
The impressive golden birdwing is the largest of Hong Kong’s approximately 250 butterfly species. It is also one of only two species protected by law in Hong Kong – highlighting just how precious it is to locals. Sadly, their eye-catching black and yellow appearance has made them vulnerable to poaching, resulting in a huge drop in their numbers. This is exacerbated by irresponsible hikers who are destroying their natural habitats by disturbing wildlife or littering.
To help conserve the species, Ocean Park has gone beyond the call of duty and created an incredible eco-friendly butterfly garden at the Park. Filled with nectar plants that provide golden birdwing butterflies and other insects with a source of energy, the garden is also a place to chill amidst the city’s packed urban high-rises.
Better still, through the Ocean Park Conservation Chill Club, the Park will partner with secondary schools to create amazing eco-friendly gardens across the city to spread the message about improving local biodiversity.
Future Conservation Champions
To groom the next generation of conservationists, the Ocean Park Conservation Chill Club will cultivate the passion of young people by encouraging them to take part in highly meaningful and engaging conservation projects across Hong Kong – some of which are designed to inspire them to consider a career in a related field.
These include a chance to participate in conservation-themed training programmes; gain practical experience from Ocean Park’s back-of-house operations, animal habitats and frontline operations; design creative conservation programme content; participate in art activities or even go on an eye-opening overseas field trip.