A. Plant Ecology
Matsu has always been called “Flora paradise on the sea.” Since Matsu and the land of China were once connected, many plant species in Matsu are same as originated from China. Some are still endemic, however, such as Spikemoss. Some are rarely found in Taiwan proper, such as Lycoris, Matsu Beauty-berry, and Matsu Wild Lily. Due to its geology, Matsu’s natural forests scatter here and there, and are not very big. Oriental Cudrania, Dalbergia, Chinese Hackberry and Chinese Elm forests mostly grow on Beigan, Nangan and Xiju Islands. The Shengtian Park of Nangan and Biyuan of Beigan are the two best places to explore Matsu’s endemic plants. Each of Matsu’s seasonal flowers is unique. Every season boasts its own range of flowers. Such include Chinese Fringe tree, Honey Suckle, Japanese Woodland Sage and Thistle in spring, Beach Evening Primrose and Red Spider Lily in summer, and Aster Sagrayi Makino in late summer and autumn, and Dianthus Longicalyx and Chinese Chrysanthemum in winter, forming a vast diverse floral landscape in Matsu.
Matsu - Flora paradise on the sea
The famous red spider lily in Matsu is a perennial plant with an oval-shaped underground bulb, from which the leaves grow. One of the characteristics of the red spider lily is that its flowers grow at a different time from its leaves. Thus, when it blooms, only the flowers but not the leaf could be seen. The flowers and leaves dont get to witness each other. The flower is big and bright red, and its floral envelope is curved and wrinkled. Either a wide farm of flowers or a single one, the beautiful red spider lily is always highly admired. Its flowering period is during July to September, and fruiting stage starts from August to October.
B. Bird Ecology
Matsu is too small for large flocks of birds to live. It doesn’t have the rivers, lakes and swamps for birds to thrive. However, as it is located near a large continent, Matsu is a great place for migratory birds to rest. This makes Matsu’s bird ecology more diverse. The months from April to September are the best time of a year to watch terns in Matsu. As summer migratory birds, terns come northward to Matsu from Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines and Austria to mate. Commonly seen terns in Matsu include Bridled Tern, Black-naped Tern, Greater Crested Tern, and Roseate Tern. In Dongyin, large crowds of Black-tailed Gulls are found breeding and looking for food in the Andong Tunnel. On average, an adult Chinese Crested Tern is 36cm long. A rare summer migratory bird, it is featured by an orange-yellowish beak with a black tip. Its head is all black with a crest. Its forehead and chest are white, and its back and upper tail coverts are grey. Its wing quills are greyish white. In winter, part of its head turns white. During the courtship period its forehead feathers turn black, but when moving onto brooding eggs and raising babies the feathers turn white. While hauling, its tail feathers and wing tips grow almost equally long. Also during this time, the tail feathers become grey, with apparent forks. Chinese Crested Tern may fly alone or in pairs. It likes to rest on island coasts, river outlets and ports and bays. It mainly feeds on fish and shrimps and mate from April to September.
Chinese Crested Tern is the rarest among the world’s 40-some kinds of terns. Scholars and experts call it the “mythological bird” because it has only been spotted every once in a while since it was discovered and named by mankind in 1863.
C. Ocean Ecology
Matsu’s seas are where cold and warm ocean currents meet. Thriving algae and planktons from Min, Lian and Luoyuan Rivers feed a variety of fish and coastal creatures here.
According to research reports by the Lianjiang County Government, Matsu has 214 fish species under 85 families. Of the 214 fish species, 7 under 6 families are being discovered and recorded for the first time. The majority of the fish in Matsu are: hair fish, pomfret, yellow croaker, snapper, eel, mullet, and brown croaker. Yellow croaker of the sciaenidae family is the most famous of all, and has the highest economic value. It is an important fish crop of Matsu. Matsu is also loved by fans of fishing, because it is suitable for fishing all year round. For this, it is even called the “paradise of seashore fishing. Dongyin is especially considered a fishing sanctuary because a fantastic kind of fish, Japanese Parrot Fish, can be found there. Matsu’s intertidal zones at ebbing time are the best places to observe coastal creatures. Take a short walk and you shall soon discover “Buddha’s hands” (a kind of shell) and barnacles clinging onto rocks, as well as crabs moving about on cobbles. Matsu has rich ocean resources. You can try “qian gu,” a type of traditional early-day fishing. You may also pick shells such as Manila clams at Fuzheng Beach in Dongju and explore its diverse intertidal ecology. Observing fiddler crabs in Matsu’s only wetland, Qingshui Wetland in Nangan, is also an interesting option. Black Seabream can live in the dirtiest water and is the fiercest in its family. It digs dirt with its caudal fin and is very agile. It spawns a lot of eggs from April to September in Matsu, especially Dongyin and Liang Island.
. Special ecologyBlue tears
What are blue tears?
“Blue tears” ,“blue seas”,"blue sand" or “blue beer seas” refer to a kind of phenomenon created by ostracodes— or pyrrhophyta. Scientists have yet been able to identify the creatures that result in this natural wonder. But it is certain that the little creatures emit light-blue fluorescent lights when they are disturbed by ocean waves. They give the ocean a blue sheen when there are a large number of them. The people of Matsu call this “blue-backed sprat water,” because the fish like to come and eat these little ones. Last year, soon after blue tears appeared in Nangan and Beigan, fishermen caught a large quantity of blue-backed sprat in Beigan. The fishermen don’t see the blue tears as something extraordinary, however. They are quite used to it.
When do the blue tears appear?
For blue tears to appear, there must be strong southern winds. Only in this way will the disturbed creatures emit blue light. The phenomenon is most likely to happen in April and May. We cannot guarantee that you are sure to find the blue tears when you are here, because this is a natural phenomenon.
“Star sands” and blue tears
As you walk through “star sands,” you shall notice that you are leaving light-blue footprints behind. The light actually comes from the frightened little creatures washed ashore by waves. But the light is so dim that it is hard to take photos of it – only the human eyes can observe it. Try long exposure and see if you can successfully take a picture of the star sands.
We recommend the following places for you to enjoy the star sands: Fuzheng Beach and Mengao Port in Dongju; Qiaozi, Qinbi Beach and Tanghoudao Beach in Beigan; and Jinsha Beach in Nangan. Again, because blue tears are a natural phenomenon, we cannot guarantee that you are sure to find them when you are in Matsu. Please also stay safe as you look for them – it is recommended to hire a local guide or see if the B&B you stay with offers such a tour.
How to Take Good Photos of the Blue Tears
Use bulb for long exposure and lower the color temperature of white balance for an amazing visual effect.
Formosan Sika Deer
Daqiu is located on the North of Beigan and right next to the Gaodeng Island. It was once inhabited by civilians and stationed by military troops. After the residents and soldiers had left, it became the only uninhabited island open to visitors in Matsu.
It is said that more than a hundred Formosan Sika Deer live in Daqiu now. This makes Daqiu a “Formosan Sika Deer paradise,” not the military base as before. Take a stroll along the round-the-island trail – you are very much likely to find a few deer.
Because the deer live in the wild, problems have occurred recently, such as overly dense population, lack of food, and inbreeding. These problems truly need to be studied well.
There are 63 kinds of fireflies throughout Taiwan. 5% are endemic species, including two in the offshore island of Kinmen.
“Rhagophthalmus beigansis” and “Rhagophthalmus giallolateralus” discovered in Beigan are different from the ones in Taiwan, mainland China or Japan.
There are three types of fireflies. One has wings and flies. Another has weak wings and therefore doesn’t fly. The other looks like a worm or a caterpillar and has no wings. The females of Rhagophthalmus beigansis have no wings but the males do. The females emit light but the males don’t. Beigan is their habitat. Adult Rhagophthalmus Beigansis appear in April and May and they emit light from 7 to 8 in the evening, on clear days. The females raise their belly up so that the males come to mate with them.
Rhagophthalmus giallolateralus can be found in Juguang Island and has similar habits with Rhagophthalmus beigansis. As its Chinese name “Huang Yuan” suggests, its wings have yellow rims. Adult Rhagophthalmus giallolateralus appear from February to April, earlier than Rhagophthalmus beigansi. Each generation lives one year. An adult can only live 1 month, however, in the previous 11 months it remains a baby and eats millepedes, which are common in Matsu.
Booklet for Matsu Geopark: A guide for enjoying. Matsu National Scenic Area Administration, Tourism Bureau.