The National Taiwan Museum yesterday launched “Marine Taiwan: The Exhibition of Ecological Conservation” to teach people about biodiversity and the threats to marine ecology in Taiwan.
As one enters the main room, a large skeleton of a short-finned pilot whale immediately draws attention, followed by pictures and samples of sea animals found in the waters near Taiwan, such as ocean sunfish (also known as mambo fish), strawberry crabs and a bright yellow creature known as the “Pikachu of the Sea” because of its resemblance to the character Pikachu in Japanese anime.
A special feature of the exhibition is a display of endangered gemstone corals, which can still be found near Taiwan.
In addition to the displays of marine animals, a section provides information on the various threats to the local marine environment, including coral bleaching caused by climate change, overfishing, habitat destruction and the introduction of exogenous species.
Information on how to help protect the oceans is also provided.
“Taiwan is an island country, so the environment and life are all connected to the ocean,” Council for Cultural Affairs Vice Minister Hong Ching-feng (洪慶峰) said during a short tour of the venue for representatives of the agencies involved in the project.
“In the past, the development of marine culture has been somewhat suppressed, so people are unfamiliar with the ocean, but as the waters are gradually made more accessible to the public, more people are getting to know the beautiful ocean,” Hong said.
Construction and Planning Agency Director Yeh Shih-wen (葉世文) said that a growing number of countries were emphasizing the importance of marine conservation and establishing as marine protected areas to protect the marine environment.
A report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature released late last year showed that more than 5,800 marine protected areas, encompassing 1.17 percent of the world’s oceans, now exist.
Yeh said the government was also paying more attention to marine ecology and protection, adding that Taiwan had established its first marine national park — the Dongsha Atoll National Park in 2007 — and would launch a committee on marine affairs next year.
Jeng Ming-shiou (鄭明修), president of the Taiwanese Coral Reef Society and a research fellow at Academia Sinica, said he had started diving 30 years ago and seen first hand that the marine ecology near Taiwan had deteriorated over the years.
Jeng, who was one of the organizers of the exhibition, said he hoped visitors would develop a sense of affection for the oceans, which usually precedes the willingness to take action to protect it.
The exhibition runs through Aug. 7. Admission is NT$10 for children and NT$20 for adults.