A group of Taiwanese scientists will set off on an expedition to Antarctica aboard the Chinese polar research vessel Xuelong in October, in what will be the first cross-strait cooperation on polar exploration, an organizer of the expedition said yesterday.
Focusing on marine biology research, the Taiwanese team will comprise three or four experts from the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium in Pingtung County, National Dong Hwa University in Hualien and Cheng Shiu University in Kaohsiung County, museum spokesman Wang Hsin-fa said.
Wang said that although individual Taiwanese scientists have participated in polar research projects organized by other countries since the 1980s, Taiwan’s achievements in this area remain sporadic and fragmented.
The latest cooperative venture with China is expected to be of great help to Taiwanese polar research in light of China’s rich experience and resources in this area, Wang said.
The Xuelong, an ice-breaker that embarks every October on a polar expedition and returns home the following April, is China’s only polar research ship. It is owned by the Polar Research Institute of China, which operates three research stations in Antarctica and one in the Arctic.
Since October 1994, the Xuelong has conducted 11 expeditions to Antarctica and three to the Arctic.
Having just concluded its latest expedition, the vessel is scheduled to visit Kaohsiung from Thursday to Friday on its way back to China, museum officials said.
The vessel will be open to the public during its stop in Kao-hsiung, with up to 1,000 visitors permitted aboard each day, the officials said.
Specimens of Antarctic krill will be on display aboard the ship and they will be offered by the Chinese scientists to the museum for collection and research purposes, the officials said.
The museum will accept registrations for the ship visits until Tuesday. Interested parties can download a registration form off the museum’s Web site at www.nmmba.gov.tw and fax it to (08)882-5072.
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