Tue, Jul 05, 2016 - Page 4 News List

Volunteers give crabs safe path for annual migration

By Chang Tsun-wei and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Environmental conservationists and students at I-Shou University on Taitung County’s Green Island (綠島) this month began an annual initiative to provide safe passage for crabs walking through traffic to lay eggs, with this year’s program expected to end on Oct. 29.

Sesarmid crabs (Metasesarma aubryi) are a freshwater crab dwelling predominantly in coastal mangroves and are found on Pacific Ocean islands, including Green Island, New Guinea and New Caledonia.

During the breeding season, female crabs travel en masse to lay eggs by the sea. Their journey on Green Island takes them across Huandao Road (環島路), a roundabout freeway that is the main traffic artery for the island.

In July 2014, local resident and historian Lin Teng-jung (林登榮) counted more than 2,000 dead crabs likely killed by traffic.

He decided to organize volunteers to help capture the crabs and relocate them to the sea.

I-Shou University students, local conservation group volunteers and tourists organized by the East Coast Scenic Area Administration have been maintaining the program to escort the crabs since 2014.

The female crabs began their migration in early May this year, and volunteers estimated 420 were killed on the road by June 30, while an additional 100 crabs had been killed by cars in the first two days of this month, Lu said.

However, volunteers on Friday last week escorted more than 300 crabs to the sea and an additional 700 on Saturday, as heavy rains aided efforts by discouraging traffic, he said.

Liu called on motorists to be mindful of the crabs, adding that most crabs use two locations to cross Huandao Road, the first is between Shilang Diving Area (石朗浮潛區) and Gueiwan (龜灣), and the second is between Jhaorih Hot Springs (朝日溫泉) and Weihu (尾湖), adding that the crabs usually migrate at about 5am or 7:30pm.

The crabs’ peak breeding season is over the next two months and volunteer workers have logged close to 2,000 crabs safely escorted in one day, he said.

East Coast Scenic Area Administration director Lin Hsin-jen (林信任) said that tourists can volunteer for the crab-escort program through the Web site www.igreenisland.tw/.

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