Sat, Jul 07, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Summer heat drives infant crabs to seek shade in Hongshulin MRT station

STAND CLEAR OF THE CLAWS:The crustaceans have been crawling to the air-conditioned facility from a nearby mangrove forest as temperatures climb

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

A notice at Hongshulin Station in Tamsui, New Taipei City, reminds passengers to watch out for infant crabs yesterday.

Photo: Loa Iok-sin, Taipei Times

Travelers should be wary of crabs when getting on or off trains at the MRT metropolitan railway system’s Hongshulin Station (紅樹林) in Tamsui District (淡水), New Taipei City (新北市), as red-clawed crabs from a nearby mangrove forest may appear in groups at the station during the breeding season.

“Crabs from the nearby mangrove natural reserve sometimes make their way into the station — I’ve seen many of them on the platforms,” station master Yang Siao-mei (楊筱梅) said yesterday. “They appeared in the station more frequently last month at the height of their breeding season.”

While crabs may add an interesting sight to the station, it’s saddening to see some of the crabs being stepped on by incautious passengers because of their small size, Yang said.

“At the suggestion of passengers, we’ve decided to put up notices inside and outside the station to remind them to be careful not to step on the crabs so as not to harm the animals,” she said.

Hongshulin Station — which literally means “Mangrove Station” — got its name because it is on the edge of the Tamsui River Mangrove Natural Reserve and features a mangrove ecology center.

“The crabs that get into the MRT station are red-clawed crabs,” Lee Kun-lin (李坤林), a guide from the center said. “The breeding season starts around May or June and lasts throughout the summer. Mother crabs lay eggs in the river or in the sea and their babies make their way back to land.”

When infant crabs crawl back to land, many of them go into the MRT station because they like cool, wet environments, Lee said.

“Since they like cool and wet environments, they can be easily found around Hongshulin Station in the early morning, when there’s heavily rainfall, or when a typhoon hits,” he said.

Yesterday, it was easy to spot large numbers of crabs — of the red-clawed variety as well as several other species — in creeks, on the wetlands or in farms around the station.

While passengers’ feet may no longer cause a danger to the baby crabs’ survival, their future is still threatened.

“All these may be gone soon when the construction of a planned expressway starts, because according to current plans, a section of the road would run right through this area,” Lee said while pointing to rice paddies and farms right behind the MRT station populated by numerous red-clawed crabs.

He was referring to an expressway construction project planned by New Taipei City Government to solve traffic jams in Tamsui, despite objections by environmentalists and some local activists.

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