China News Service, Beijing, February 20th, Title: Living up to the mountains and the sea: Three “beautiful encounters” in Xiamen

  Author Liu Wenwen and Peng Lifang

  In early spring in Xiamen, Fujian, the sun is warm, the water is clear, the breeze is gentle, the vegetation is swaying, and flocks of birds are feeding and playing by the water, creating a vibrant scene.

  This is the home of many rare species, including the famous "giant panda at sea" the Chinese white dolphin, the amphioxus known as the "living fossil", and the "most beautiful bird in China" the chestnut-throated bee-eater... Thanks to the Xiamen Data After ten years of ecological protection and planning, it is no longer unusual to have a "beautiful encounter" with these rare species.

Encounter a beautiful bird

  Now is the season for winter migratory birds to "visit" Xiamen. At Xinglin Bay in Jimei District, bird watching enthusiasts' telescopes and telephoto cameras sometimes focus on the group of egrets perched in the reeds, and sometimes follow the cormorants flying across the water.

  When the reporter met Huang Zhiquan, a member of the Xiamen Bird Watching Association, he was talking to the primary school students who were immersed in observation: "Many cormorants come here to live and overwinter. At the most, there were more than 10,000 cormorants."

On a warm spring day, egrets forage by the Yuandang Lake in Xiamen. Photo by China News Service reporter Wang Dongming

  Huang Zhiquan said with a smile that Xiamen has two landscapes: "one black and one white": groups of egrets can often be seen fishing at the Xidi Gate, which is a white landscape; in autumn and winter, thousands of cormorants circle around the lake. , this is the black landscape.

  Xinglin Bay was originally an open bay. Due to the long-term enclosure of the bay for farmland and excessive aquaculture, the ecological environment has seriously deteriorated, and migratory birds were once difficult to find. In recent years, as Xiamen has stepped up the restoration of its marine ecosystem, the ecological environment of Xinglin Bay has gradually improved. "If the wetland is well protected and rich in species, birds will naturally fly here." Huang Zhiquan said.

  Today, Xinglin Bay, with its open water surface, has become an important ecological wetland and bird habitat and breeding base. There are 98 species of birds in 14 orders, 38 families, and 6 species of national II-level key protected animals. They are listed in the international trade of endangered wild animal and plant species. There are 4 species in the appendix of the Convention, making it a veritable "bird paradise".

The chestnut-throated bee-eater, a national second-level protected animal and "the most beautiful bird in China", has frequently appeared in Xiamen in recent years. (Photo provided by the Propaganda Department of Xiamen Municipal Party Committee)

Encounter with "Giant Panda at Sea"

  In early spring, the sun was just right. While taking a boat, the reporter happened to see a group of white dolphins swimming together in the waters near Huoshao Island in Xiamen. They sometimes jumped out of the water and sometimes dived into the sea. They were very cute.

  The Chinese white dolphin is one of the most endangered marine species in the world. It is known as the "giant panda of the sea" due to its rarity.

  Many years ago, due to ocean pollution, the Chinese white dolphin's habitat was severely damaged and its population dropped sharply. In order to protect the "giant pandas at sea", Xiamen established the Chinese White Dolphin Nature Reserve in 1997, and has successively carried out comprehensive improvement projects in the west sea area and the east sea area. After more than 20 years of hard work, the protection work has achieved remarkable results.

Chinese white dolphins swim in the waters of Huoshuo Island in Xiamen. Photo by Zhou Qing

  Xin Jianjun, the former director of the Xiamen Fishery Management Department, told a reporter from China News Service that the population of Chinese white dolphins in Xiamen waters is stable and gradually increasing, from 60 in the early 1990s to more than 80 in 2020. Xiamen is the only city in China where you can see the beautiful figures of white dolphins in the main urban area, which shows that Xiamen has achieved remarkable results in environmental protection over the years.

Hello "Flower of the Ocean"

  Walking into the Coral Conservation Hall of the Third Institute of Oceanography of the Ministry of Natural Resources in Xiamen, the reporter seemed to have entered a mysterious underwater world. This coral conservation center with an area of ​​only 145 square meters cultivates nearly a hundred species of reef-building corals. It is the most technologically advanced living laboratory in China that cultivates the largest variety of reef-building corals.

  The large transparent glass tank in the museum is the temporary "home" of the corals. In the tank, the colorful corals are like flowers blooming in the water. Some of the coral reefs are shaped like flowers, some are like fans, and dexterous little fishes shuttle freely among them.

  Coral reefs are formed by the accumulation of calcareous skeletons secreted by coral polyps. "It's like a building," said Wang Qifang, a doctor jointly trained by the Ministry of Natural Resources' Third Institute of Oceanography and Xiamen University. The space and structure of coral reefs can provide good shelter and breeding places for marine life, which has a great impact on biodiversity and Ecological balance plays an important role.

Beautiful corals at the Coral Conservation Hall of the Third Institute of Marine Research of the Ministry of Natural Resources. Photo by China News Service reporter Jia Tianyong

  Looking around the world, due to climate change and man-made destruction, the frequency of coral bleaching and other phenomena is gradually increasing, and coral reefs have become one of the most fragile marine ecosystems. Wang Qifang said that the Third Institute of Oceanology is committed to cultivating "coral babies" with stronger environmental tolerance for use in the restoration of wild coral reefs to restore higher biodiversity.

  Rare animals that are sensitive to the ecological environment are "test strips" for testing the ecological quality of a city. The swaying coral polyps in the conservation center, the white dolphins playing in the waves on the sea, the rare birds that frequently appear in the park...their healthy growth is the epitome of Xiamen's promotion of ecological protection. "Once far, now close" has become the best story between rare animals and this "garden on the sea" city.

  Living up to the mountains and seas, Xiamen’s story continues. (over)