Yesterday I was lucky enough to be invited to the Swire Institute Of Marine Science.
Otherwise known by its acronym, SWIMS, the marine biology institute is part of the University of Hong Kong, and is located in probably the most isolated part of Hong Kong.
It's right on the tip of Hong Kong Island's Cape D'Aguilar. To get there you have to pass along a very long and windy single track road with pot holes. Even though the institute is located in a marine reserve, where fishing is prohibited under Hong Kong law, incursions by fishermen are not uncommon.
'X' marks the spot.
I met a Adela Jing Li, a student researcher from Hebei Province in mainland China. Pictured at right in the aquarium is a sea urchin, a nudibranch, a sea cucumber and some soft corals. I think.
Adela is researching the effects of global warming on the seas around Hong Kong, and the marine organisms in it. Those are fish larvae in the petri dish. If I remember correctly, Adela's experiment has something to do with seeing how ever so slight water temperature increases can affect fish, and their reproductive cycles.
Not sure what that has to do with this starfish though.
Adela's fellow student is Stella Wong, who is pictured above reaching into an aquarium full of coral samples. Stella is an ecotoxicology PhD candidate studying "ecotoxicology and risk assessment of engineered nanomaterials, in particular nano metal oxides and carbon nanotubes, on tropical marine organisms". Quite.
Both students are members of the Aquatic Toxicology & Ecological Risk Assessment (ATERA) Research Group.
To get an overview photo of SWIMS, I climbed up a small hill to find a student hostel which is very idyllic, peaceful, and quiet. And cheap too at HK$60 a night for HKU students. Also on the hill is Hong Kong's oldest lighthouse which dates back to colonial days when the territory was a juicy target for pirates.
Such a beautiful spot, I hope I can return to SWIMS soon!
ALEX HOFFORD : HONG KONG CHINA MARINE BIOLOGY LIGHTHOUSE PHOTOGRAPHER