Taiwan's 'crab protection' documentary wins U.S. film award

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Screenshot of Mission-Land Crab Redemption

Screenshot of Mission-Land Crab Redemption

Taipei, July 15 (CNA) A documentary about how people help land crabs migrate from inland areas to the shore to spawn in southern Taiwan has won two awards at the Best Shorts Competition in the United States, the Directorate General of Highways (DGH) said Monday.

The film "Mission-Land Crab Redemption," commissioned by the DGH, has won an Award of Excellence as a short documentary in the Nature, Environment and Wildlife category, and an Award of Merit for editing.

During the 20-minute documentary, the audience can see breathtaking landscapes and colorful ecosystems in the coastal area of Kenting, which is an important habitat and spawning ground for the land crabs.

The film also illustrated how the DGH has worked with the Kenting National Park administration since 2012 to help the crustaceans move from land to the shore to spawn, as Provincial Highway No. 26 along the coast blocked their path and often led to roadkill.

Chung Han-hsien (鍾漢賢), a section chief in the DGH's road maintenance office in the area, explained to CNA that the bureau narrows a certain section of the four-lane roadway to two lanes during summer nights that coincide with the full moon, when the crabs migrate.

The traffic controlled area stretches from the 39.5-kilometer to the 41.5-km mark on the highway, through an area known as Banana Bay between the main town of Kenting and Eluanbi.

The controlled stretch of highway cuts through the habitat of more than 20 species of land crab, making it the most diverse known crab habitat in the world, according to local crab experts.

When the traffic controls are in place, the road opens to traffic for 10 minutes and then closes to traffic for 10 minutes to let the crabs pass and the process is repeated during the control period, Chung said.

Chung said visitors to the area have been very cooperative and are treated to the spectacular sight of large numbers of crabs crossing the road and head to the shore to lay up to 400,000 eggs in the water.

In addition to the route provided by the controlled area, the bureau has provided another way for the crabs to reach their spawning grounds.

It has used a canvas to prevent the crabs from crossing the road and channel using rough cloths (because crabs tend to climb on objects with rough surfaces) into three separate 20-meter culverts under the highway, Chung said.

This year, the traffic controls will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on July 17-19, Aug. 15-17, and Sept. 13-15 and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 13-15, he said.