The Kenting National Park Administration said yesterday it would close a section of a coastal highway for nine nights to protect land crabs crossing the road to spawn on the seashore.
From July to November each year, female land crabs make their way to the sea from the coastal forests to lay their eggs, which often means they have to cross roads, leaving them at the mercy of passing vehicles, the park administration said.
With the development of Provincial Highway No. 26 into a four-lane highway, which cuts through the coastal forest in the national park, the crabs are often crushed by cars.
To protect them, the park administration started implementing the road-closure measure last year, which proved effective in reducing the number of crab fatalities.
The Pingtung-Oluanpi highway at Banana Bay is wide and straight, so drivers on this stretch often speed up without realizing it and piles of crushed crabs can sometimes be seen on the road after a busy weekend night during their migration period, an expert said.
For this year, the park administration said that on nights right before and after the full moon during the summer months — Aug. 14 to Aug. 16, Sept. 12 to Sept. 14 and Oct. 11 to Oct. 13 — the outer lanes of the highway in both directions on the Banana Bay section will be closed. This would force traffic to move more slowly, giving drivers more time to avoid the crabs.
For the first two months, the lanes will be closed from 6:30pm to 8:30pm, while in October, they will be closed from 6pm to 8pm, which is when the migration is at its peak.
According to the Research Center for Biodiversity at Academia Sinica and foreign experts, the Banana Bay area of the park is home to multiple species of land crabs, making it the most diverse known habitat in the world for the creature.
In recent years, the park has organized groups to escort the crabs across the road, posting warning signs about the migrating crabs at Banana Bay. Despite these measures, their numbers have continued to decline.