The Zhoushui River is Taiwan's largest river. The estuarine ecosystem at the mouth of the river is critically important to the well being of the entire west coast. Large areas of tidal mudflats and the mixing of sea and fresh water in the Zhoushui estuary give rise to an area of tremendous ecological abundance. Numerous fish species spawn in the estuarine waters. It is home to top predators like the unique Taiwan pink dolphins. The abundance of crustaceans and other marine life create one of the most important migratory stops and wintering areas for East Asia's shorebirds. The vulnerable Saunders's Gull (Larus saundersi) use the area as a vital part of their wintering habitat. Because of the area's importance to migrating and wintering shorebirds, which would include the the globally endangered Black-faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor) and the fact that it is a vital wintering area for the Red Listed Saunders's Gull the area has been listed as an internationally important bird area (IBA) by BirdLife International. The Dacheng Wetlands is listed as IBA: TW-016.
The Dacheng area is vitally important to the communities that surround it. Local fishers depend on the area for their livelihood as do oyster farmers and other aquaculturists. The destruction of the wetlands will destroy these traditional communities way of life.
Originally FPG and developers denied the existence of pink dolphins in these waters. Conservationists and researchers were accused of fabricating evidence and showing footage of pink dolphins filmed in Hong Kong waters. Conservationists and researchers would be bullied by pro development thugs at meetings. These thugs would disrupt meetings and hearings where evidence of pink dolphins in off the Zhoushui mouth was presented. However, evidence became so overwhelming that eventually FPG and developers had to concede that there were indeed pink dolphins in the waters around the FPG plant.
Photo A shows a recent photo of a mother and calf pair (part of a larger group) in the waters around an area the has recently been reclaimed for a tree planting project at the FPG plant. See FPG land reclamation in pink dolphin habitat update.
Photo B: Photo courtesy and copyright of FormosaCetus Research & Conservation Group.
Photo B shows a recent photo of the same mother and calf pair shown in Photo A right up close to the sea wall of the area that has recently been reclaimed for a tree planting project at the FPG plant. What are these dolphins doing. Could it be that they are looking for their old home or feeding area? The reclaimed area is where dolphins fed in 2007 before work on the sea wall began in autumn 2007.
Photo C is a recent photograph showing three pink dolphins at Dacheng with FPG in the background - they were first observed just south of Wang-gong and they were heading south slowly and clearly feeding (throwing fish out of the water, fish jumping to get away) along the way.
Also see Future home of Kuokuang Petrochemical! on The View from Taiwan blog.