MarineGEO-Hong Kong

The Marine Global Earth Observatory (MarineGEO) is a global network of partners focused on understanding how coastal marine ecosystems work—and how to keep them working. It brings together simple sampling technology (ARMS) and next-generation genetic sequencing to fill the large gaps that still exist when estimating marine biodiversity.

Pictured are scientists from Hong Kong, the United States and South Korea gathering for the retrieval of the first batch of Hong Kong ARMS in October 2017.

To learn more about the Smithsonian Institution and MarineGEO, visit:

Retrieval of ARMS

The ARMS (Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures) are layered, three-dimentional settlement plates that mimic the complexity of hard-bottom marine substrates. The ARMS are designed as passive collectors of marine understudied cryptofauna, which are able to attract the settlement of both encrusting species (corals & algae) and motile organisms (crustaceans, mollusks & polychaetes).

Pictured are divers retrieving a set of ARMS that has been deployed for over one year in Hong Kong.

To learn more about the ARMS, please visit:

Sieving of ARMS plates

Scientists are sieving seawater that come along with the ARMS, making sure not to miss a single animal behind.

Photo-Taking of ARMS plates

The layers of ARMS plates are disassembled and meticulously taken photos of. Each ARMS come with nine plates, and high-resolution photos were then taken of each side of all plates to capture the sessile benthic communities.

Photos of ARMS plates

Pictured are sample photos from our ARMS plates. Each photo is then uploaded to an online software called CoralNET for estimating settlement coverage by many sessile organisms, such as: sponges, barnacles, tubed worms, bivalves, and even corals.

To learn more about CoralNET and our collection of ARMS plate photos, visit:

Sorting of the Resident Animals of the ARMS

Many scientists and volunteers come together to sort the animals that come along twith the ARMS. These animals are classified into smallest taxonomic groups noticable by naked eye; for example, snapping shrimps, brittle stars, polychaete worms, and so on. They are then preserved and delivered to the Florida Museum of Natural History for further identification.

To learn more about the Florida Museum of Natural History, visit:

Animals Found on the ARMS

Pictured are some of the resident animals we discovered living around the ARMS. Currently, 1500 specimens have been recorded from the first batch of ARMS with an estimated 300+ different species. In total, 2,586 photos of mobile and sessile invertebrates were taken for documentation.

To learn more about the macroinvertebrates (and fishes) we have documented, visit Florida Museum's database:

Timeline of Events

1. May 2015
First deployment of ARMS at Tolo Harbor (Centre Island, Che Lei Pai, Port Island and Tung Ping Chau)

2. October 2017
Retrieval of ARMS at Tolo Harbor and the processing of ARMS: taking plate photos, extracting DNA, genetic sequencing, taxonomy

3. January 2018
Deployment of winter ARMS at seven sites in Hong Kong (Centre Island, Tung Ping Chau, Bluff Island, Cape D'Aguilar, Sham Wan, Peng Chau and San Shek Wan)

4. July 2018
Deployment of summer ARMS at the same seven sites in Hong Kong

5. January 2019
Retrieval of winter ARMS and the processing of the ARMS

6. July 2019
Retrieval of summer ARMS and the processing of the ARMS

Useful Links

Smithsonian Institution, MarineGEO & TMON

Global ARMS Program

CoralNET, MarineGEO-Hong Kong

Florida Museum of Natural History

Florida Museum Invertebrate Zoology Database

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