At this stage, recruitment of volunteers to the current survey team are generally not open to the public. As the project has limited resources, our surveyor group size cannot grow too quickly, in order for us to properly train each volunteer and control the quality of the data. Each member of our volunteer surveyors must attend annual training sessions at the beginning of the diving season to refamiliarize with the survey methodology and reef fish identification techniques. Volunteers are partnered with marine scientists for each survey dive, until at least a basic understanding for reef fish identification, and the ability to accurately identify the most commonly encountered species, is achieved.

Yes and no. For beginners without any prior interest in reef fishes, many species can look very similar and be difficult to tell apart. The majority of reef fish species encountered in this project so far have physical features that enable us to accurately identify them underwater by just looking at them, without having to collect samples. Like any skill, it definitely takes practice and dedication to expand your knowledge and increase accuracy!
Apart from physical features, other observations can also help, such as the fish’s habitat or behaviour. If you are interested to start learning about the visual identification of reef fishes, start with our page What to Look Out For! 

Each survey team will always have at least one piece of underwater photography or videography equipment on every dive. Where possible, surveyors will take pictures or video footage of species encountered, to take a closer look at physical features after the dives. In particular, for species that are considered rare in Hong Kong, species not previously recorded in the survey, or species that are suspected to be new to Hong Kong records, a photograph or video footage of the observation MUST be provided.

Our survey dives typically take place between May and November each year, about once a week on average, although start and end dates and frequency of surveys depend on weather and underwater conditions. Surveys are paused throughout the winter months because underwater temperatures can become very low and past studies in Hong Kong have shown that many reef fishes are less active in the winter, hence lowering chances of encounter. Taking into consideration the safety of surveyors and lowered likelihood of fish encounters, winter surveys are currently not conducted in the project.


First of all, thank you for your support! By taking the time to learn about Hong Kong’s reef fish and marine ecology, you are helping us in the best way possible. You can also help us to spread our message by sharing this web-portal with your friends. If you would like us to come to your workplace, school or event to talk about the project or marine conservation, we would love to arrange that too. Remember that apart from collecting scientific data, we are also trying to spread knowledge among Hong Kong’s general public about the rich marine resources we have – and your contributions here will be greatly appreciated! If you have any skills that you think can contribute to our online platform, spreading the word through different channels, ideas on scaling-up the impact, you are very welcome to get in touch with us with your ideas. You can also support the project directly by making a donation so that we can complete more surveys each year and continue our work for longer into the future.

Recruitment of volunteers are generally not open to the public. As the project has limited resources, our surveyor group size cannot grow too quickly, in order for us to properly train each volunteer and control the quality of the data. However, outreach activities are sometimes organised with a limited capacity for members of the public with scuba diving certification to join in and understand what we do. Keep an eye on our web-portal for updates on these!

At the moment, we do not arrange any fish identification training workshops that are open to the general public. If you would like to see us offer these, please let us know!


Along Hong Kong’s long coastline are a variety of underwater reef habitats, providing the potential for a vast diversity of reef fish species to occur. It has been said that Hong Kong’s reef fish diversity is comparable with even the Caribbean Sea! For a place with such rich natural marine resources, we know only very little about what we have. Without this knowledge, managing and protecting our resources also becomes more difficult. For example, Hong Kong used to take many of the fish it consumes from its own waters. Today, most of the fish we eat are imported. How much of our wild fish stocks have we lost? Are there areas with more fish than others? What are the important areas to protect if we would like to conserve wild fish stocks? These questions can be more readily answered if we have knowledge of what species of fish continue to live in our waters, where they occur and how frequently they are found.

This project was designed to collect data that will be usable for at least, scientific research, academic study and conservation purposes. In the past years, the data has been used in collaborations with WWF-Hong Kong (to generate the Marine Ecological Hotspot Map 1), Hong Kong BioBlitz 2016 and 2017 2, and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR (to generate the “Underwater World in Marine Parks of Hong Kong 3” posters and the “Field Guide to Common Reef Fishes of Hong Kong”). Data for species of groupers also contributed to species assessments completed by the IUCN Grouper and Wrasse Specialist Group. Furthermore, findings of new species to Hong Kong published records were published in a peer reviewed journal 4, expanding the list of reef fish records for Hong Kong.

If the necessity arises, the survey data can also potentially be usable in the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) of coastal developments. In the future, local species assessments may also make use of 114˚E Survey’s data for reef fish species. Such assessments are a target activity for Hong Kong’s Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (BSAP) 5.

Hong Kong people have had a long relationship with our reef fish and the sea. From our roots of fishing communities to our undying love for seafood, reef fish have played an important part of Hong Kong’s history and culture, and still now on the dinner table. Despite all of this, research into reef fishes in local waters is very limited. While these fish are locally well known as food, few Hong Kong people understand about reef fish ecology, biology, or perceive them in the context of wildlife conservation. We hope that through this project and the study of our colourful marine reef fish, we can bring the relationship between people and nature a little closer. With the current resources and expertise available, and the reasons listed above, the subject of reef fish became a top choice for focus by the 114˚E Survey. However, other forms of marine life are equally lacking in research, and for some creatures such as marine polychaetes and nudibranchs even less are known. More research into the full spectrum of marine wildlife in Hong Kong is greatly encouraged.

Distribution data is not released on this website so as not to encourage targeted fishing of certain species. If you are looking to use the distribution data for conservation, research or related purposes, please contact us directly.

The objective of this web-portal is to share basic knowledge about reef fish species in Hong Kong to motivate their appreciation and conservation. To reduce the risks potentially faced by species featured in this web-portal, GPS information about where they are found within Hong Kong are never shared publicly. Particularly, for species that are considered rare in Hong Kong or threatened with extinction (by definitions given in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 6), extra caution is taken to keep their location and distribution information confidential.

Many local and global resources were visited during the compilation of information that now appears on this web-portal. For a full list of references used, please visit the References page. If you are looking for more information about Hong Kong’s marine ecology, please visit our Marine Resources page.


At this point it is difficult to assess the after-effects of Hong Kong’s trawling ban through only the 114˚E Survey. This is primarily because the survey commenced after the trawling ban, meaning there are no data collected from before the ban that can be used for comparison. Furthermore, the surveyed areas in the 114˚E Surveys are reefs and coastal habitats, which do not necessarily overlap with bottom-trawl fishing grounds that are typically further away from coastal areas. The lack of pre-ban data illustrates just how important it is to have continued surveys and research that can provide baseline information for temporal comparisons.

Sadly no, and we very much look forward to this one day!

Apart from marine trash, nothing is ever removed from the sea during the 114˚E Surveys for food. Harassment of marine life for sport is extremely discouraged.

Have a question that’s not answered here?

Contact us. We will respond as soon as we can.