A small crab rests on a fingertip.
Pontianacense This species of crab was discovered for the first time in Hong Kong. © Dr. Bayden Russell

Stories in Hong Kong

A Tiny Crab in Hong Kong is Showing Big Promise for Oyster Reefs

A small crab was discovered for the first time in Hong Kong on TNC's project reef.

Using our shellfish restoration expertise gained from over 150 projects around the world, TNC has embarked on an ambitious effort to understand and quantify the critical ecological benefits of oysters and to restore shellfish reefs in Hong Kong.

In partnership with the Swire Institute of Marine Science (SWIMS) of the University of Hong Kong, in May 2018, we deployed our very first pilot reef in Lau Fau Shan, Deep Bay, to understand the impacts of local restoration. In May 2019, we deployed our second pilot reef using discarded oyster shells in a different part of Hong Kong, Tolo Harbour. Together, we are conducting research to guide future restoration efforts across the region.

Recently, Dr. Bayden Russell and Mr. Steven Wong of SWIMS made a discovery on our oyster reef in Lau Fau Shan. A small crab (Nanosesarma pontianacense) was recorded for the first time in Hong Kong. This exciting development gives us hope and shows how vital shellfish reef ecosystems are in supporting a variety of species. Another great surprise was when a green turtle was spotted swimming around our second reef in Tolo Harbour just a few short months after it was deployed. Stay tuned for our latest discoveries!

It is exciting to see this crab in Hong Kong for the first time. The discovery demonstrates that reef restoration provides homes for species that otherwise wouldn’t be there.

Associate Director of the Swire Institute of Marine Science