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Lantau Eco-Tour: Route 1

Introduction of Sunny Bay

Sunny Bay, used to be called Yam O, located on the north coast of Lantau Island. “Yam” means dark which is referring to Yam O located on the north of a mountain with little sunlight. “O” means bay. The name “Yam O” reflects the physical location of the place. However, the name “Yam O” is changed to “Sunny Bay” to fit the happy atmosphere of Disneyland.

Sunny Bay Habitat
Yam O Timber Storage Site

Timber storage is a traditional industry in Hong Kong, storing floating timber in the seawater can prevent it from rotting and protect the wood against pests. In the 90s, the contract of the timber storage site in Yam O was terminated due to development of Tung Chung and establishing the new airport. The timber storage industry declined. Nowadays, only a few giant wooden columns for holding the floating timber in the past are left in the shore.

 

Introduction of The Brothers

The Brothers Marine Park is situated in the northern Lantau waters. It is designated as a marine park in December 2016 to help conserve the Chinese white dolphins (Sousa chinensis), their habitats and enhance the marine and fisheries resources of the waters. Affected by the freshwater runoff from the Pearl River, the marine environment of the Brothers Marine Park contain more organic matter and sediments, and most of the marine life found are highly adapted to low salinity and high turbidity. The waters around The Brothers is identified as an important habitat for the Chinese white dolphins. However, the dolphins have nearly abandoned the waters north of Lantau Island due to the impact of infrastructure projects.

Species in the Brothers Marine Park
Chinese white dolphin
(scientific name: Sousa chinensis)

Chinese white dolphins have dark grey bodies when they are newborn. When they grow older, the grey colour fades into spots or disappears. The body appears as pink due to blood vessels under the skin.

Chinese white dolphins are mammals that breathe through the lungs. The blowhole on top of their head closes when diving in the water. Chinese white dolphins use echolocation for hunting and orientation by sending out ultrasound. At present, the number of Chinese white dolphins has been greatly reduced due to the impact of busy sea traffic, large-scale infrastructure projects and seawater pollution.

 
 

Introduction of Tai Ho

Tai Ho located on the north coast of Lantau Island. Under the New Nature Conservation Policy, it was identified as one of the 12 “Priority Sites for Enhanced Conservation”, ranking third. Tai Ho Stream and Tai Ho Wan were designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1999, one of the eight SSSI in Lantau Island. However, the natural habitats in Tai Ho have been threatened several times before. Real estate developers planned to build residential buildings in Tai Ho Wan in 2001; the government planned to establish a logistics park outside Tai Ho Wan to promote trading between Mainland China and Hong Kong in 2004; some villagers destroyed large stretches of mangroves due to the government's restriction on the building of New Territories Small Houses in 2014.

Tai Ho Habitat
Tai Ho Stream

The Tai Ho Stream is a medium-sized natural stream which has several tributaries running from upland to estuary. Tai Ho Bay and Tai Ho Stream have a variety of different habitats such as mangroves, seagrass beds and mudflats, supporting 53 species of freshwater fishes (32% of all freshwater fish species in Hong Kong) and 10 species of amphibians (43% of all amphibian species in Hong Kong). There is a high species diversity and rare species such as Ayu (Plecoglossus altivelis), horseshoe crabs and the endemic Romer’s Tree Frog (Philautus romeri) can be found.

Species in the Tai Ho Stream
Romer’s tree frog (Scientific name: Liuixalus romeri)

Romer’s tree frog is endemic to Hong Kong. It is very small, only 1.5-2.5 cm in length. It is the smallest frog in Hong Kong. The back of Romer’s tree frog is brown and has an “X” pattern which is a type of camouflage.

It has discs at the finger and toe tips but the discs are not very well-developed, therefore, it likes to stay in dead leaves piles on the ground instead of climbing trees. The habitat of Romer’s tree frog was destroyed when the Chek Lap Kok airport was built. Later, it has been reproduced artificially and relocated in other suitable habitats. However, the population of Romer’s tree frog is still decreasing and it is listed as an endangered species by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.