Hong Kong's reef fish

Stan Shea, a marine biologist and conservationist, has been running a citizen science program called “114°E Hong Kong Reef Fish Survey” for a decade. The aim of the initiative is to collect data on local reef fish species and to raise awareness about the marine environment in the community. About 50 volunteer divers participate in the program, supporting Shea in his educational mission.

It is estimated that there are about 500 reef fish species in Hong Kong waters, of which about 460 have been identified so far. The biologist is also working on a photographic book that will be released in 2026 and will present Hong Kong’s reef fish.

Kamy Yeung, a high school teacher, joined the project as a volunteer diver in 2014. Her experiences drastically changed her perception of the underwater world. “Like many residents of Hong Kong, I thought that we wouldn’t see many reef fish in local waters,” says Yeung. She adds that these areas are rich in biological diversity.

Stan Shea’s project, which is the most important of the marine programs at the NGO BLOOM Association Hong Kong, was initiated after noticing a lack of research on reef fish in Hong Kong waters.

One of Stan Shea’s key goals is public education about the diversity of fish life in Hong Kong’s waters, as well as gathering data that could influence decisions regarding the creation of local marine protected areas (MPAs). Currently, less than 5% of Hong Kong’s waters are protected, with only about 0.01% fully protected from fishing and ship traffic. Scientists and environmental protection experts are calling for more MPAs to be established to achieve the Convention on Biological Diversity’s goal of protecting 30% of land and marine areas by 2030.

Shea, using the work of his team of volunteer divers, documents the species of reef fish in Hong Kong, based on research by Andy Cornish and advice from Yvonne Sadovy (a veteran biologist). So far, about 460 species of reef fish have been identified.

Volunteers survey over 40 diving sites around Hong Kong, and their engagement leads to a better understanding and protection of marine life.

Kamy Yeung regularly shares the knowledge she gains during diving with her students, sparking their interest in Hong Kong’s marine environment. Shea, continuing his research, hopes that his upcoming book will attract an even wider audience, especially younger generations.

Sadovy emphasizes that most people in Hong Kong live a short distance from the sea, but few are aware of the riches it holds and will start to take more interest and engage in protecting this environment.

About the author

Picture of Grzegorz Bubak

Grzegorz Bubak

My fascination with marine aquariums began over two decades ago when I stumbled upon an article about this topic in a magazine. Since then, the underwater world has become my obsession and passion, shaping my everyday life. I started my adventure with marine aquariums with soft corals, which were my first step into this fascinating world. Over time, captivated by the diversity and beauty of SPS corals, I decided to focus on their cultivation, which continues to fill me with constant wonder.

Thanks to my experience and passion for marine aquariums, I am ready to share my knowledge and expertise with other enthusiasts in this field. I am happy to be part of the Reef Pedia community, which serves as an invaluable source of information for all marine aquarium lovers.