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Our hearts will go on— Cetacean conservation and stranding responses in Taiwan


【Our hearts will go on— Cetacean conservation and stranding responses in Taiwan】

Through contacts with and research of Cetaceans over the years, it seems that they are magical mammals attracting the support from all walks of society. With 25 years of experience in Cetacean conservation, Taiwan impresses the world with its proud achievements. Before exploring more about the myth of Cetaceans, let us appreciate the fruitful results of the past quarter century and feel how creatures are connected to one another on the road to creation.
Taiwan began to rescue stranded Cetaceans for over a quarter century. Last year, the Taiwan Cetacean Society gathered and collated past text data, photos, and recordings and visited experts, scholars, and civilian partners to produce and edit this film on rescuing stranded Cetaceans. Apart from reviewing the effort to conserve Cetaceans and rescue stranding Cetaceans, the society wishes to thank partners who have been supporting them over the years.
The Shagang dolphin slaughter of 1990 in Penghu caught the attention of global media. In August of the same year, the government regulated Cetaceans as a protected species and banned their capture. In 1994, the Cetacean Research Lab of the Department of Zoology (now Department of Animal Science and Technology), National Taiwan University, began to archive the data and integrated records regarding stranded Cetacean rescue. In terms of month, there are stranded Cetaceans every month, but more often in winter and spring, with a higher rate of live stranded Cetaceans. So far, 27 types of Cetaceans have been stranded in Taiwan.
To develop a nationwide cooperation network on handling Cetacean stranding, NTU Professor Lien-Siang Chou first established the Taiwan Cetacean Stranding Network in 1996 to link all like-minded units across Taiwan together. To unite enthusiastic individuals, the Taiwan Cetacean Society was founded on October 17, 1998 as the first of its kind in Asia Pacific.
Handling and rescue of Cetacean stranding have always been a focus of the society. By integrating with university researchers, veterinaries, and volunteers from all parts of society, the society is on-call round the clock across Taiwan, including offshore island like Lanyu, Green Island, and Penghu, to rescue stranded Cetaceans at the life-and-death point. Over the past 20 years or so, the society has handled nearly 1,000 stranded Cetaceans and saved nearly 30 live stranded Cetaceans for treatment and rehabilitation. In 2000, the society rescued and saved a Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus) locally called “Uncle Tong” at Tongxiao Beach. After 64 days of rehabilitative rescue, the society sent it back to the ocean, creating a rare record in Asia for the longest rehabilitation of stranded dolphin following by a successful release.
Either photos or videos, these records of stranded Cetacean rescue are precious to academic research and awareness education in Taiwan, particularly to those humble pioneer volunteers, veterinaries, scholars, rescuers, and government officials 25 years ago. These records provide important experience and are invaluable assets for stranded Cetacean rescue, and Cetacean conservation and research today. In this 19-minunte documentary, we have integrated our records of stranded Cetacean rescue and the interviews with some major characters who have participated in those recues. Apart from sharing Taiwan’s proud achievements with global Cetacean conservationists, we hope to urge all citizens in Taiwan to join marine conservation, in order to make Taiwan always the favorite home of traveling Cetaceans.
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