A Wonderland of Crabs

By Jennifer Tong Photos provided by the Peikuan Crabs Museum

      People often talk about the fascination of the beautiful North East Coast of Taiwan. In particular, they mention the seascape of the East China Sea. As you drive south along this rich-in-rock-formation coastal highway, there is another treasure trove beckoning not too far away. "Peikuan", a little township, the first stop on the North Coastal Highway in I-Lan county, and it is still not well known to foreign visitors.
Peikuan sits at an optimal location in the vicinity of the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Its offshore neighbor is "Turtle-Mountain" islet. Each year the kuloshio (black tide) from the Pacific brings thousands of oceanic life creatures passing by Peikuan and Turtle Mountain islet. The live hotsprings by the islet is a wonderful natural cradle for fish and crabs.

      In Peikuan, one can find more than 200 indigenous species of crabs. Remarkably, that is almost one-fifth all crab species in the world. Thus, in 1999, the Peikuan Crabs Museum was built to showcase Taiwan's unique natural heritage.

      This 250-ping museum is the only one in the world dedicated to the crab, and both oceanographers and school children along with their parents swarm in during the weekends and holidays. Its rich collection surprises every visitor, from the petite crabs inhabiting high elevation mountain areas to the heat-resistant crabs that survive 60 degree Celsius temperature deep in the ocean.

      People walk into this crab world to understanding how crabs live, breed and spawn. It makes one chuckle to discover that a female crab rejects her spouse with two crossed legs on her chest, signaling that she is in bad mood. It's touching, too, to see a male crab hug his woman so desperately while fleeing from a predator. And, be aware, don't be deceived by the beautiful tiny chrysanthemum crab. Her tender look will mislead you as a few grams of her poisonous body can put 1,000 people to death.

      In total, the museum presents some 2,000 different live crabs and specimens and, from time to time, many international exchange studies are held at the museum. It's a unique museum in Taiwan and the crab's world gives our visitors an amusing stopover while passing along the North Coastal Beach Highway.

      The museum opens daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The only break is the day before Chinese New year. So, please, don't miss out on such an interesting place. I assure you that a wonderful experience that will add an educational perspective to your trip to the beach and bring you much closer to Mother Nature.