Turtle Island, Yilan
The secret code to the origin of life on Earth lies hidden in the bubbling haze of submarine volcanoes. Turtle Island’s underwater hydrothermal vents are one of the distinctive features of these submarine volcanoes. When hydrothermal vents erupt during the stand of the tide, thousands of Xenograpsus testudinatus (hydrothermal vent crab) will appear in full force. The incredible scene of these vent crabs vying for food is like a reenaction of the beginning of life!
Jellyfish are organisms that appeared in our oceans 650 million years ago. Most species of jellyfish have a very short life cycle, averaging only 2-3 months. Soft, diverse and elegant in appearance, these brief-lived yet ancient creatures are legendary in the marine ecosystem.
The in vitro fertilization that takes place when corals release massive amounts of eggs and sperm into the water is an ecological wonder in the night sea. When the floating fertilized eggs that escape predators find favorable habitat to settle down, they will develop into embryos and metamorphose into coral polyps. Once more, their peculiar life story unfolds.
Corals are relatively primitive, slow-growing organisms. Although reefs formed by different species and assemblages of corals cover only 3 thousandths of the ocean’s area, with rich productivity and high biodiversity, a quarter of marine organisms depend on the coral reef environment for habitat, feeding and reproduction. As a result, they are often called the tropical rainforests of the sea.
Reef fish are like the vibrant birds and butterflies of a terrestrial forest; coral reefs without fish would be like a dead forest. However, because of their attractive, eye-catching appearances, they are frequently captured for aquariums, where they eventually die.
Sargassum is one of the oldest living organisms in the ocean. Though its structure is simple, it is an important producer of oxygen. Sargassum is the largest kind of seaweed in Taiwan’s waters, growing densely like an underwater forest. It is a habitat and foraging ground for a variety of small living organisms,also a nursery ground for larval and juvenile fish.
As early as 450 million years ago, the horseshoe crab’s ancestors were already living on Earth. This ancient creature, even older than dinosaurs, migrates back and forth between land and sea during spring and summer each year, when it reproduces on sandy beaches. Each female horseshoe crab can produce tens of thousands of eggs at once, which are an exceptional nutritious food for transit migratory birds.
Christmas Island, Australia
During the wet season around December every year, the red land crabs of Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean will migrate to the coast, where on the lower terraces mating and incubation occur. Then, after an incubation period of about two weeks, female crabs will collectively release their eggs into the ocean in the early morning during high tide.
Nansha, Taiping Island
Sea turtles are one of the marine organisms considered to be a living fossil. Though it lives its life almost entirely at sea, it retained the characteristic of coming ashore to lay eggs and reproduce. On summer nights, the mother sea turtle devotes herself to leaving the water and crawling up onto the high sandy beach, where she digs a hole and lays dozens of white eggs. Following an incubation period of about fifty days, the young turtles break through their shells and head for the open sea.
Migratory fish are travelers in the ocean, migrating in schools according to seasonal temperatures, the availability of food, the circulation of ocean currents, or for breeding and finding new habitats. In their encounters with human, they may swim along with people, putting up a stunning show, but may also become the target of fishermen.
Seagrass ecosystem is one of the three shallow water marine ecosystems. When exploring seagrass beds on the ocean floor, one can observe a variety of reef fish, invertebrates, crustaceans, mollusks, and sharks hunting their prey. In tropical waters, it plays a number of roles including being a primary producer, a nutrient recycler, as well as providing habitat and foraging ground for small organisms.