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Taiwan's Green Island installs new batfish mailboxes

Mailboxes more easily accessible for beginner divers, families with children

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Divers pose with the new underwater batfish mailbox in Green Island. (Lyudao Township Office photo)

Divers pose with the new underwater batfish mailbox in Green Island. (Lyudao Township Office photo)

TAITUNG (Taiwan News) — Following the opening of the world’s deepest underwater mailbox in 2018, Green Island has built another underwater mailbox with an onshore counterpart, both shaped like the Teira batfish, which opened on Sunday (Oct. 3).

Green Island, aka Lyudao Township, on Taiwan’s east coast, is a popular diving spot for divers from around the world, and the pygmy seahorse mailbox installed 12 meters underwater on the island’s west coast in 2018 has attracted a wave of underwater postcard mailers. However, due to seasonal monsoons that bring strong waves, not all divers get the chance to see the world’s deepest underwater mailbox.

Taiwan's Green Island installs new batfish mailboxes
A diver inserts a waterproof postcard into the world's deepest, seahorse-shaped mailbox off the cost of Green Island. (Lyudao Township Office photo)

Lyudao Township thus decided to install another underwater mailbox on its north coast, so the special experience of sending underwater postcards is available to tourists and divers all year-round, Taitung County Magistrate Yao Ching-Ling (饒慶鈴) said at the opening ceremony. Additionally, an onshore version of the new mailbox provides children and non-divers the chance to send their own postcards as well.

The installation of the new set of mailboxes took over a year of planning and construction. Lyudao Township worked with Tatung University’s Department of Industrial Design and invited seven students to dive and scout the location in the Chaikou Snorkeling Area before they created their designs.

Taiwan's Green Island installs new batfish mailboxes
Taitung County Magistrate Yao Ching-ling and Lyudao Township Mayor Hsieh Hsien-yu pose by the onshore batfish mailboxes. (Taiwan News, Stephanie Chiang photo)

After a public vote and judging by experts, the township adopted Lin Tzu-chen’s (林資宸) Teira batfish-inspired design. Lin said that he noticed while diving that the Teira batfish is one of the fish that most actively engage with divers in Green Island, and saw it as a fitting mascot for Green Island.

The underwater mailbox, 6.4 meters under the surface of Chaikou Snorkeling Area, features a young batfish with a more pointy or triangular shape, while the onshore mailbox features two adult batfish with more rounded bodies.

Taiwan's Green Island installs new batfish mailboxes
Tatung University student Lin Tzu-chen (林資宸) explains how he created the design for the new mailboxes. (Taiwan News, Stephanie Chiang photo)

Lyudao Township faced many obstacles in its attempt to install the new underwater mailbox. Construction could not begin until winter’s northeast monsoon season passed. Also, it had to factor in challenges such as wildlife habitat protection, equipment shipping, underwater technical difficulties, and COVID-19.

Lyudao Township Mayor Hsieh Hsien-yu (謝賢裕) said the idea for installing underwater mailboxes came from an owner of a local business called Big Brother’s Story, who placed a mailbox for divers to insert trash they picked up at sea, as well as waterproof postcards. He says divers can still insert smaller pieces of marine debris into the mailbox, which will then be picked up by mail collection staff.

He said sustainability is one of Green Island’s development goals, and a major issue that comes along with the growth of tourism. As all water containing shampoo, shower gel, and sunblock products must be treated before being released into the surrounding seas, the town is also planning to build wastewater treatment facilities.

Taiwan's Green Island installs new batfish mailboxes
Green Island's waterproof postcards. (Taiwan News, Stephanie Chiang photo)

Mayor Hsieh added that while Green Island’s location on the Black Current’s path means its resources are abundant and regularly replenished, it is still important to reinforce environmental protection measures for the ocean. Aside from simply protecting the ocean’s wildlife and resources, Hsieh also hopes to get support from the central government to actively rehabilitate them.

A local diving coach from Cool Diving said environmental protection and wildlife rehabilitation has been successful in Green Island, and divers regularly see sea turtles roaming the waters. Tourists may also find abundant wildlife during nighttime intertidal zone explorations, which is another popular activity for Green Island’s visitors.

Taiwan's Green Island installs new batfish mailboxes
Wildlife in Green Island's intertidal zone. (Taiwan News, Stephanie Chiang photo)

Taiwan's Green Island installs new batfish mailboxes
A pufferfish glowing under a flashlight (Taiwan News, Stephanie Chiang photo)


Updated : 2022-05-22 00:48 GMT+08:00