Ocean creatures flourish half a kilometer inland

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Ocean creatures flourish half a kilometer inland

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Joe

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The gutters at the Marine Wetlands Park in Kaohsiung’s Linyuan District (林園) have been found to contain about 10 species of marine life, with sea anemones being the most vibrant in the miniature marine ecosystem.

The gutters are 200m to 300m long and are about 600m away from the district’s coast.

During a recent visit to the park, Linyuan District Mangrove Conservation Society director-general Su Wen-hua (蘇文華) found marine animals and plants thriving in the gutters of fish farms.

In addition to the upside-down jellyfish and groupers found years ago, other marine species, such as sea anemones, sponges, feather algae, molly fish, gray mullets, tilapia, barnacles and lined fireworms, are also flourishing in the gutters.

Sea anemones are the most vivid species and are found on the walls of the gutters together with sponges of varied colors.

The bottoms of the gutters are lined with green feather algae, while the water is full of upside-down jellyfish and symbiotic algae.

Fish farmers in the district extract sea water for their farms, which, once used, drains out through the gutters onto the wetlands and ultimately ends up back in the ocean, Su said, adding that this provides the right living conditions for marine creatures.

The ocean water contains the seeds and eggs of marine species, which is why the above-mentioned species can be found on land, he explained.

To monitor the quality of the water at the farms, Linyuan Fish Farm Development Society member Su Yu-yuan (蘇有元) cultivates coral, clown fish and sea anemones in an aquarium that is filled with the same sea water the farms use.

Coral in an aquarium usually becomes sick if minerals such as calcium and magnesium are not added to the water within a week, while his coral has lived well even though he has not added any to the water for more than a year, he said.

This is the first time that many of the above-mentioned species have appeared in the wetlands, Su said, but added that the ecosystem along the shore of Linyuan has changed radically over the years, especially when it has been flooded or hit by typhoons.

For example, green mussels used to be abundant in the area, but they disappeared overnight and not one has been seen in 10 years, he said.

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