Encouraging stewardship of our marine environment

September 26, 2016

The surface of the Earth is 71 per cent ocean. The ocean removes carbon from the air, regulates the Earth's climate, is an important source of food for humanity with as much as 10 per cent of human protein intake being harvested from its depths, provides jobs, and, through the actions of tiny marine plants, generates over half of the oxygen we must breathe to live. It provides a means to transport people and goods from one corner of the earth to another, a mine from which we extract commercially valuable minerals such as salt, bromine, and magnesium, a source of new medicines to cure our sick, and as a host to millions of people who visit for recreational purposes like swimming, fishing, scuba diving, boating, and waterskiing. Without doubt, the ocean is the most valuable shared natural resource on Earth.


Hong Kong, our small home on the edge of the South China Sea, is but a tiny, although important, part of the one vast ocean that encircles the planet. Hong Kong is nestled into the eastern side of the Pearl River delta on a spit of land that juts out into the South China Sea from the belly of China and is surrounded by 263 territorial islands. Of Hong Kong’s 2574 square kilometers, 60 per cent is ocean. The very heart of our environment is awash with tides, currents, and the occasional tropical cyclone. Our history was founded on waterborne commerce and - since less than 3 per cent of our land is arable - our food supply has been dependent on fishing. We are living in the midst of a rich, diverse marine environment filled with seashores, wetlands, mangrove forests, coral reefs, schools of fish, and pods of dolphins. We are water people, like it or not.


And yet, for all of that, many children in Hong Kong rarely see the ocean or venture to the seashore. Fewer still understand the dynamics of the physical and chemical forces acting upon this environment or the biological wonders that inhabit our watery world. If we are to help them become wise stewards of our natural world we must help them experience and understand our marine environment.


To this important end, THS has a very strong science program that engages students at every grade level in learning about biology, earth system sciences, chemistry, and physics through the lens of the natural marine environment of Hong Kong. We engage students in formal and informal learning activities studying and conducting original research in the classroom, the science laboratory, the swimming pool, beaches, in the ocean, and on board Black Dolphin, the school’s classic yacht used as an outdoor classroom to transport kids into the outdoors.  This approach is fully in keeping with The Harbour School’s pedagogical philosophy of inquiry-based, hands-on and minds-on place-based experiential and adventure learning.  

We are very excited about the new school facility on Ap Lei Chau Island being renovated for use by our students. The new site will overlook Aberdeen Harbour where the Black Dolphin is moored and will include a Marine Science Centre. The Centre will serve three important functions - it will be a state of the art environment in which to learn about Marine Science, it will serve as an incubator to foster and house student-led research projects, and it will be a showcase in which members of the general public in Hong Kong community may learn about our students’ work as well as the surrounding marine environment.


Read our Captain's Log to find out what our students have been learning onboard the Black Dolphin.

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