Luzon Strait, Taiwan - Jim Chen

I arrived in Canada eight years ago from Taiwan, when I was just ten years old. I visit Taiwan every summer, as the majority of my family still resides there. Taiwan is a small island with a large population – thus, the population density is very high and the environment can seem pretty polluted at times. Multiple visits to Taiwan’s coasts helped me realize just how beautiful Taiwan truly is.

My fondest memory involving water took place in the August of 2013. Our family decided to visit Kenting National Park, a place known for its beautiful scenery and gorgeous beaches. The National Park lies along the Luzon Straight, a waterway between the Philippines and Taiwan. It is an important waterway in the Pacific Ocean. Kenting has a coral reef that is home to many species of tropical fish. I knew all of that before the trip, but seeing them for myself really blew me away.

I have wanted to go snorkelling on an earlier trip, when I went to the Bahamas in 2012. However, I was unable to go through with my plan due to bad weather. I did, however, spend time in the warm turquoise Caribbean waters, which greatly increased my affinity for the sea.

Our car arrived at Kenting, and I recall it being very hot that day. I was very anxious to enter the embrace of the cool ocean water. The sun was bright and the water was peaceful. Finally, for the first time in my life, I was going snorkelling.

After putting on a wetsuit and carefully walking around the many jagged rocks near the shore, I was welcomed by fine white sand beneath my feet and the big blue Pacific Ocean in front of me. The beach was surprisingly not very busy, which is always good news when one wants to enjoy what nature has to offer.The experience only got better as I entered the water. At first, there wasn’t much. However, the water was at a perfectly cool temperature, soothing my sand-scorched feet. The water was very shallow near the shore until I proceeded beyond a point where the sea floor began to drop. Out of nowhere, marine life of many forms began to appear right in front of me. I encountered urchins, starfish, corals, and countless fish of all colours. They were understandably wary of me, quickly darting left and right. There was a myriad of fish wherever I looked swimming all around me. I was simply overwhelmed - I had no idea the shores of Taiwan were so full of life! I spent only ninety minutes in the water, but it’s an experience that will stay with me for a very long time.

I grew to realize just how beautiful and precious the ocean is. When I boarded a cruise from Taiwan to Japan this year, I could not stop thinking about how all the life and colour that thrive under the seemingly plain ocean surface. I fell in love with the ocean, and want to protect it more than ever.

Bonnie McElhinny
Jim Chen

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