PFS Sea Classroom 2014-2017

The PFS Sea Classroom was a very successful programme which ran for 2.5 years. Whilst students made up most of the 2,448 participants during the 129 trips on the Sea Classroom, many other people including teachers, international guests and educators, artists, environmentalists and business leaders came onboard and learnt about protecting Hong Kong’s waterways and our global oceans.

The impacts and connections we made within the community during this time will continue to send far reaching positive ripples across the waters of Hong Kong for many years to come.

What comments would you like to make about the PFS Sea Classroom?

“A fantastic learning environment with friendly, knowledgeable staff.”

What Did We Do On The Sea Classroom?

Harbour Observation – The learning started from the time the students got on the boat. The program engaged students to look at their surroundings starting right in the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter. They took note of the rubbish that was in the water, the industries surrounding the harbour, the connections to lifestyles and the surrounding environment to facilitate later discussions on sources of pollution and solutions.

Discussions and Teaching Sessions – In addition to the harbour observation, there were two main teaching sessions during the program. One was combined with the sea surface trawling, and was marine science related (water salinity, temperature, pH, turbidity), with the students learning about plankton, climate change, sea surface and deep sea trawling, plastic pollution in Hong Kong and globally. The second session focused on the hows and whys of the problem of plastic marine pollution, and of course included solutions for combating this problem.

Sea Surface Trawling – This hands-on activity involved a 15-minute sea surface trawl, a visual inspection of the sample collection and examination of the contents utilising the digital Wi-Fi microscopes and ipads in small groups.

Additional programmes

  • Visit to the Fisherfolk Village in Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island

  • Beach Cleanups on remote beaches (with the dinghy) or pier accessible beaches

  • Boat trip to Fan Lau for Dolphin watching

  • Visit to Fish Farms in Chi Ma Wan

  • Geographical field trip to Lamma Island

  • “Fish for Trash” with Save Aberdeen Harbour Alliance

How could we improve the programmes onboard?

“Always do a beach cleanup!”

It is really great seeing things, new things from your own eyes and it really helped me appreciate nature more” 

St Joseph College Student

Sea Surface Trawling and Microplastics

Approximately 150 samples were collected and sent to Hong Kong University for analysis, offering University students from a variety of disciplines the opportunity to participate in scientific research and evaluation. Recognition and thanks goes to Dr Christelle Not, Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences for her support and guidance with our sea surface sampling.

The collected sea surface samples were the basis for the published research:  Abundance of plastic microbeads in Hong Kong coastal water       

To view the Press Release click on the button below.

"60% of sea surface trawls in Hong Kong contained plastic microbeads; therefore,

microbeads make up a non negligible amount of microplastic polluting Hong Kong's waters."

Which part of the trip did you find the most interesting?

“Looking at plankton with microscopes.”

Science Box

In 2015, the PFS Sea Classroom gratefully received funding from the French International School of Hong Kong for the Science Box containing an optical monocular microscope with camera, 2 USB Wifi microscopes, 2 handheld microscopes, a refractometer, pH probe, GPS, thermometer and secchi disk. The equipment is well utilised with the student programs and enables PFS to build up a varied database of information on Hong Kong’s waters that will be accessible to all students.

The Underwater World of Hong Kong

No two sea surface trawls were ever the same, even from the same location on the same morning or afternoon. The trawls varied greatly, from samples that contained little visible marine life or plastic to samples that were dense with algae or sea life and shockingly filled with microplastic particles. It was always exciting hauling in the trawl net and watching the students crowd around the trawl container to catch the first glimpse of what we had caught in the net.

The visual inspection was followed by the opportunity to use the digital Wi-Fi microscopes with iPads for closer examination and was almost always the highlight of the trip. Even when there were few visible microplastic particles, using the microscopes we would often find microplastic fibres or miniscule specks of plastic invisible to the naked eye.

The myriad plankton species or larval creatures were the stars of the show, with most students being completely unaware of the microscopic life in the sea supporting our life through oxygen production or the food chain.

Sea Classroom Mural

One of the goals for the PFS Sea Classroom was that it should be an interesting, inspiring and fun place to learn about plastic marine pollution. What better way to do this than to feature a stunning underwater scene of all that is great and unique to Hong Kong, to balance out the negative with the positive and to give people a reason to look after our local waters. Hong Kong has an incredible array of biodiversity, stunning coastlines and unique habitats and we wanted to show off some of these truly great parts of Hong Kong. Lamma Island based artists Roz Keep and Ah Nam volunteered their time and skills to produce an incredibly detailed underwater scene featuring all local species of fish, turtles, dolphins and coral.


The mural brought the WOW factor to the Sea Classroom and the spectacular work of art was a surprise for everyone to enjoy. We can’t thank Roz and Ah Nam enough for their work and everyone who came aboard was amazed by this beautiful piece of art.

What comments would you make about the PFS Sea Classroom?

“It’s a classroom unlike any other! “

Please tell us three things you learned from this trip that you didn’t know before?

“Plastic pollution has spread to Antarctica”

“How the fish and birds eat plastic by mistake”

“Names of different types of plankton found in Hong Kong”