Press Release

HODGSON GREGOR reefchck at
Mon Jun 2 00:49:25 EDT 1997

The following is a press release about Reef Check '97 from the Office of Public Affairs HKUST.  

Media coverage world wide is an important part of the Reef Check project as it raises public awareness of the plight of coral reefs, and the importance of their sustainablity.  If you would like further information about media coverage, or would like more

 detailed information about the project for press releases in your own area please contact me <reefchck at> or Telephone (852) 2358-8568, 
Fax (852) 2358-1582.  Alternatively log on to our website homepage for the latest update on the project.   


Penny Quaile
Reef Check Intern
For release
29 May 1997


	Scuba-diving students from the Hong Kong University of Science and 
Technology are joining hundreds of divers around the world for Reef Check 1997, 
the first global survey of coral reefs.

	The world headquarters for Reef Check is located in the HKUST Research 
Centre's Institute for Environment and Sustainable Development.

	Between 14 June and 31 August, reef scientists will train and lead more 
than 100 teams of volunteer divers from 35 countries to measure the health of 
more than 300 coral reefs around the world.  In Hong Kong, student teams from 
Hong Kong and Chinese Universities will be diving alongside those from HKUST.

	"Coral reefs are an important natural resource throughout the tropics, 
but particularly in the South China Sea," says RC Director Prof Jay Chen.  "We 
must raise awareness of their value, and gather more accurate data on how they 
function and respond to human activity."

	HKUST's Institute for Environment and Sustainable Development will 
analyze the data and report on the state of the world's reefs at a campus press 
conference in mid-October.

	"We have heard that many reefs believed to be in good shape actually 
have been damaged by human impacts, such as dynamite and poison fishing," said 
Dr Gregor Hodgson, the HKUST biologist leading the initiative.  "However, 
scientists do not have a clear picture of the health of the world's reefs."

	Dr Hodgson first suggested the idea for a global survey on the 
Internet.  "Based on the massive response from serious scientists, I realized 
that we should go for it."  Now Reef Check 1997 is the most ambitious project 
during the International Year of the Reef.

	 Over two hundred million years old, coral reefs have been called the 
tropical rain forests of the ocean, housing over 25% of all marine species, 
including some of  the favorite delicacies of Chinese cuisine such as sea 
cucumber, live fish and shellfish.  Scientists are only beginning to uncover 
their hidden secrets; some of the newest anti-cancer and AIDS-fighting drugs 
have been derived from reef organisms.

	Coral reefs are vital for the world's largest industry, tourism.  Some 
Island regions, such as Hawaii and Hainan Island,China, depend on reefs for tourism 
dollars as well as for fishing. Sandy beaches are created and protected by 
reefs.  Without this protection, shorelines are washed away, a recent occurrence 
at one beach-front resort in Hainan after the coral reef was removed.

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