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Porpoise research project looking for donations and volunteers

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A project team from the University of St Andrews is about to begin an intense study of finless porpoise habitat in the area proposed for East Lantau Metropolis (ELM)/ Lantau Tomorrow Vision. This area – a massive land reclamation of about 1,700 hectares near Kau Yi Chau and Hei Ling Chau in the eastern waters of Lantau – does not form part of the government’s long-term monitoring programme for cetaceans, and there is very little data currently available.
The University of St Andrews’ findings will be presented to the government, and used to inform the community about the environmental impacts of the proposed project on local porpoises and other cetaceans. Numbers have been falling steadily for many years due to habitat loss, over-fishing, pollution, boat traffic and net entanglement.

Living Islands Movement (LIM) is asking the community to get involved in the St Andrews’ project in two ways – by helping to raise HK$58,000 for underwater sound recording equipment, and/ or by helping to analyse the sound recordings collected.

Donations are needed to help purchase two additional underwater acoustic monitoring devices (Soundtraps), which can record the distinctive sounds of cetaceans. Each Soundtrap costs approximately HK$27,000. After the St Andrews’ project is complete, the Soundtraps would continue to be used in Hong Kong to help with dolphin and porpoise conservation.
Once the sound recordings have been collected, they will need to be analysed and the data entered into spreadsheets, and again this is where LIM is asking for people’s help. After a short training session, volunteers can do this work from home, on either a Mac Or PC using specialist software. Participants would need to put aside six hours a week to analyse the data, and ideally be prepared to do this a couple of times per month.

To find out more and get involved, email LIM at [email protected].

Photo: wikimedia.org

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