Mon, Oct 25, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Nanwan eco-grid monitors undersea activity

By Chiu Yu-tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN PINGTUNG

"The government should zone more areas for ecological conservation here and limit fishing around coral reefs," Shao said.

Shao said that the abundance of ecological resources in Taiwan, whose geological and geographic conditions were formed as early as during the Tertiary period 65 million years ago, deserve to be studied more closely and preserved in order to ensure the land's sustainability.

The real-time underwater monitoring system now transfers images to the museum.

Fan Tung-yung (樊同雲), a biologist for the museum, told the Taipei Times that scientists had done their best to mitigate the disappearance of coral.

"In addition to monitoring several coastal sites, we also grow as many kinds of coral colonies as we can in the lab," Fan said.

Results of their coral recovery efforts can be seen by museum tourists, who can enjoy the fascinating sight of diverse coral colonies and fish by walking into the display room called the "Kingdom of Coral."

Fan said that the museum promotes the preservation of not only coral but also other marine creatures. Although environmental education has been promoted for years, Fan remains worried. According to a newly completed investigation of ecological losses caused by an oil spill in 2001, the percentage of coral coverage in affected areas has dropped to 30 percent from 80 percent.

The spill involved a Greek-registered cargo ship, the MV Amorgos, which ran into submerged reefs near Kenting, leading to a spill of 1,150 tonnes of fuel oil near an ecological reserve at the park.

Being aware of the importance for Taiwan of promoting marine science-related research, NCHC director Joe Juang (莊哲男) said more technologies for grid computing would be further developed in order to enhance the underwater monitoring project.

"In addition, if any lens for underwater cameras could be produced using nano-materials, the maintenance would be much easier," Juang said.

Grid computing requires powerful, reliable, high performance systems and sophisticated software.

So far, the underwater monitoring project involving grid technologies has interested other countries, such as Australia, whose ecological systems at the Great Barrier Reef are world-famous.

"The eco-grid system at Nanwan makes it possible for Taiwan to play a leading role in coral protection in the world," said Peter Arzberger, director of National Biomedical Computation Resource at University of California in San Diego.

The San Diego Supercomputer Center is one of the major webmasters maintaining the eco-grid. Through the connection, US scientists working on the establishment of a global lake observatory network now jointly monitor a site at Yuan Yang Lake in Ilan.

"By retrieving data collected in Taiwan, we can make a comparison between Yuan Yang Lake and others in the US," said Tim Kratz, director of Trout Lake Station at the Center for Limnology for the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

According to Kratz, Yuan Yang Lake is particularly interesting because of large disturbances caused by typhoons.

Kratz said that global perspectives are quite important for scientists because local environmental issues indicate global climate change.

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