A Well-Preserved Wetland in Taiwan

The magnificent Gaomei Wetlands in central Taiwan's Taichung City. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)
The magnificent Gaomei Wetlands in central Taiwan's Taichung City. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

The Gaomei Wetland (高美濕地), also known as the Gaomei Wetland Preservation Area (高美濕地野生動物保護區), is located on the south of the estuary of Dajia River (大甲溪) in central Taiwan’s Taichung City.

The suspension bridge at the Gaomei Wetlands in Taichung City. (Image: Taichung City Government)

The suspension bridge at the Gaomei Wetlands in Taichung City. (Image: Taichung City Government)

It is an eco-friendly wetland with an elevated walking platform that stretches into the open sea. The wetland is one of the most well-known wetlands in Taiwan and attracts numerous tourists from home and abroad every year.

There is a winding elevated walking platform extending outward 500 meters from the embankment in the Gaomai Wetland. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

A winding elevated walking platform extends outward 500 meters from the embankment in the Gaomai Wetland. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

The Gaomei Wildlife Conservation Area was established on September 29, 2004 after it was approved by the Council of Agriculture of the Executive Yuan earlier that year. It was designated as one of the Wetlands of National Importance (國家級溼地) by the Ministry of Interior in 2007.

Watch the following video of the Gaomei Wildlife Conservation Area:

 

According to an online survey conducted by a leading Japanese travel agency, H.I.S., in 2016, the Gaomei Wetland was the most popular tourist destination that Japanese tourists wanted to visit that fall, followed by Germany’s Schloss Neuschwanstein (New Swanstone Castle 德國新天鵝堡). It was also referred to as a place that people should visit at least once in their lifetime.

The 691-meter long walking platform is a great place to see fiddler crabs and amphibious mud-skippers in the Gaomai Wetland. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

The 691-meter-long walking platform is a great location to see fiddler crabs and amphibious mudskippers. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

The wetland was once a popular beach during the Japanese colonial rule (1895-1945). It was open to the public in 1932, but closed in 1976 due to serious sedimentation induced by the completion of a rockfill embankment constructed by the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War in the 1960s and the North Embankment of Port of Taichung (台中港) constructed in the 1970s.

Visitors can see fiddler crabs (招潮蟹) and mud-skippers (彈塗魚) around the walking platform in the Gaomai Wetland. (Image: Julia Fu / Vision Times)

Visitors can see fiddler crabs (招潮蟹) and mudskippers (彈塗魚) around the walking platform in the Gaomai Wetland. (Image: Julia Fu / Vision Times)

Covering an area of 1,733 acres (701.3 hectares), Gaomei Wetland is a mix of mud and sand. It is a famous habitat for a diverse number of birds, fish, crabs, invertebrates, and plants. According to data released by the Taichung City Government, 148 bird species in 41 families (including 15 protected species), 33 crab species in 7 families, 5 shellfish species in 5 families, and 13 fish species in 13 families inhabit the wetland area. This includes black-faced spoonbills (黑面琵鷺) and Yunlin Bolboschoenus planiculmis (雲林莞草), which is an endangered plant in the sedge family.

It is fascinating to see mud-skippers flipping around on the surface below the walking platform. (Image: Taichung City Government)

It is fascinating to watch mudskippers flipping around on the surface below the walking platform. (Image: Taichung City Government)

The wetland consists of three zones. Extending outward 400 meters from the embankment, with an area of 260 acres (105.2 hectares), the Core Zone (核心區) is the area designated for the preservation of Yunlin Bolboschoenus planiculmis (雲林莞草). The Buffer Zone (緩衝區) has an area of 65.5 acres (26.5 hectares), which extends 100 meters from the Core Zone. With the winding elevated walking platform extending outward 500 meters from that embankment, the Sustainable Development Zone (永續利用區) covers an area of 1,407 acres (569.6 hectares).

Yunlin Bolboschoenus planiculmis (雲林莞草) is an endangered species in Taiwan. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

Yunlin Bolboschoenus planiculmis (雲林莞草) is an endangered plant species. (Image: Billy Shyu / Vision Times)

Among the three zones, only the Sustainable Development Zone is opened to the public, where visitors can either walk or sit on the platform to see thousands of fiddler crabs (招潮蟹) and amphibious mudskippers (彈塗魚) running around. It is also fascinating to enjoy the soothing sea breeze and watch the spectacular sunset against the orange clouds at dusk or to appreciate the vast expanse of the largest group of Yunlin Bolboschoenus planieulmis (莞草) in Taiwan.

The Gaomei Wetland is a popular location for bird-watching. (Image: Taichung City Government)

The Gaomei Wetland is a popular location for birdwatching. (Image: Taichung City Government)

Gaomei Wetlands is also a popular location for birdwatching, as migratory birds can be seen on the grassy and muddy tidal flats throughout the year. If you are lucky enough, you may spot some endangered black-faced spoonbills and other rare and valuable species.

The unique Kaomei Lighthouse (Image: Courtesy of Michael Liang)

The unique Gaomei Lighthouse. (Image: Michael Liang)

Another feature of the Wetland is the Gaomei Lighthouse (高美燈塔), located just outside of the Gaomei Wetland. Officially opened to the public in 2014 after an extensive renovation, the octagonal concrete tower rises 34.4 meters high and is topped with a light reaching to 38.7 meters. It is the only lighthouse painted with red and white stripes among Taiwan’s 36 lighthouses and is one of 10 lighthouses that are open to the public.

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