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Observatory Records the Whole Picture of Taiwan's Most Spectacular Coral Reef

Taiwan's Most Spectacular Coral Reef in Lanyu(Orchid Island)Taiwan's Most Spectacular Coral Reef in Lanyu(Orchid Island)

With assistance of well-known writer Syaman Rapongan of the Tao (also known as Yami) ethnic tribe, Taiwan Ocean Research Institute (TORI) and the National Center for High-performance Computing (NCHC) are working together to construct an underwater ecology observatory in Lanyu or Orchid Island, a small volcanic island 46 km southeaste of Taiwan's man island. Once the observatory is completed in July, the National Science Council (NSC) and the National Applied Research Laboratories (NARL) plan to organize public education activities on coral reefs during the summer vacation.
(China Times Reporter Li Tsong-you� Taipei )

Dr. Fog-Chen Chiu, Director General of the Taiwan Ocean Research Institute (TORI) said that after extensive surveys, the underwater cliff at depth of 15 meters near Lanyu Junior High School was selected as a site for the observatory with underwater video cameras and hydrology monitoring instruments. Also a network is established to transmit the real-time images of the coral reef ecosystem to the NCHC. These images are then used as education resources on ocean ecosystem for Lanyu's elementary and junior high school students.

Dr. Fang-Pang Lin, the NCHC researcher responsible for setting up the network, remarked that if there is sufficient bandwidth, the education program will be extended to elementary and junior high school students in Taiwan's main island for their appreciation of Lanyu's dazzling coral reef and the life around it. As being done for Kenting's Underwater Ecological Observatory, the NCHC also plans to link the Lanyu's observatory with the EcoGrid project that is funded by the US National Science Foundation to promote long-term ecological research. This networking, which includes Australia's Great Barrier Reef Moorea Coral Reef and others, facilitates international scientists to observe and research on the ecological dynamics of Lanyu's coral reefs.

In addition, the NARL is setting up a large screen at Lanyu airport to show the real-time underwater images taken by the observatory so the tourists can witness the beauty of Lanyu's ecology. Dr. Fog-Chen Chiu also disclosed that the NARL is collaborating with the NSC to organize Lanyu coral reef ecology and Yami culture education programs during the summer vacation in conjunction with the opening of the Lanyu underwater observatory.

Dr. Fang-Pang Lin pointed out that Lanyu's coral reef is most beautiful in Taiwan; even Kenting's is not comparable. However, it was much more difficult to set up the underwater observatory in Lanyu than in Kenting. The installation faces many challenges. The inteet infrastructure in Lanyu is far inferior to Taiwan's main island. And strong underwater ocean currents make it difficult to install observatory and maintain cable transmission stability. Furthermore, recurrent typhoons disrupt the smooth operation of underwater cameras and instruments for continuing observations.

China Times Reporter Li Tsong-you� Taipei
Excerpt from 2009.06.13 China Times article