Nature | Travel | Life

Abundance of the Sea


Taitung’s symbiotic relationship with the sea is demonstrated by the many large and small fishing harbors that dot its extensive long coastline.

台東有著長長的海岸線,沿海更有許多大大小小的漁港,這樣的地方與海的關 係一定很密切。

The Joy of Netting Fish on Summer Nights

During the summer in villages near the coast a long t he Sout h Li n k H ighway, t here is a n exciting night time activity that cannot be found on any website. Only if your timing is right and you meet the right person will you have the chance to participate in this special event with the locals.

After dark, adults from the villages, fishing nets on their backs, head to the riverbank with their young, excited followers in tow. After making sure the children are safe along the riverbank a nd set t i ng up t hei r e qu ipment, t he a du lt s proceed into the river and begin netting fishing. The children play in the sand on the riverbank, gaze upon the stars, and listen to older children’s stories while eagerly awaiting the adults’ return. Every few minutes, the net fishermen would come back to shore to empty their catch on the sand before returning to the river to continue fishing. The children converge as one and rush to pick up all the small lively fish, still hopping around, and put them in buckets prepared.

The catch in the buckets consists of transparent- colored fishes only three centimeters long. They only appear where the rivers meet the sea in the summer and fall before and after a typhoon and are best caught on a midnight high tide. During this season, when you see lights bobbing deep in the darkness along the coastline, the headlamps of locals are likely to pursue these small fish.

If you are brave enough, you can grab one of the flopping fish, brush the sand off and gobble it up.  How’s it taste? You will know as soon as you try it!


Summer nights are the best time to net fish all along Dawu to Taimali.


夜黑之後,村裡的大人陸續扛著漁網外出,後面還有幾個興奮的小跟班;在岸 邊安全的地方把孩子和工具安置妥當,大人便下到河中撈魚,孩子們或玩沙或看星 星聽更大的孩子講故事等著大人上岸。那只是幾分鐘的時間,大人上岸後,把網子 裡撈到的東西全都直接倒在沙灘上便再回到河面繼續捕撈,孩子們開始七手八腳地 翻攪著,看到活跳跳的小魚就抓起來丟進備好的小桶子裡。

這種身長只有 3 公分、通體透明的小魚便是魚苗,只在夏秋兩季颱風前後出現 在河海交會處,其中又以夜半漲潮是最好的抓魚時間,每到這個時節,海面黑岸處 有晃動著的點點星光,那就是在地居民戴著頭燈正在撈魚。

如果你膽子夠大,可以抓一條仍跳動著的小魚苗,輕拍掉細沙後直接吃下肚。 什麼味道?吃了就知道!


Chenggong Fishing Harbor 成功漁港。(照/臺東縣政府)

A Winter’s Call to Battle on the Seas

The cycles of the Chinese lunar calendar directly influence the lives of the people of Taitung. It is not only due to weather changes but also subtle differences in the rhythm of the underwater world. Those who depend on the sea for their livelihoods are attuned to its daily changes and treat the sea with gratitude and a healthy respect.

After typhoon season ends, the winds of the northeast monsoon pick up, and the swordfish return to the East coast. In October, once the northeast monsoon has picked up and the turbulent waves have begun to build, the fishermen of Chenggong Township tense with great anticipation. Once the waves top two meters, the conditions provide the best setting to catch the swordfish as they will surface with the stormy waves. The harbor’s fishermen eagerly await the call to battle signaled by the sea’s changing condition.


節氣深深地影響台東人的生活,而這節氣不只是氣溫的轉變,更是海洋的節奏。 靠海維生的人們,日日觀測海洋變化,對海懷抱著感恩又敬畏的心情。

夏秋的颱風季過後,緊接著報到的就是冬天的東北季風,此時旗魚洄游到東部 海岸,強勁的東北季風掀起大浪,成功鎮的漁民也繃緊神經,浪高 2 公尺的 6 級風浪, 讓旗魚浮上水面,也是最易捕獲旗魚的時刻,像是敲響了戰鼓,住在港邊的漁民們 隨時準備出海捕魚去。


Standing at the bow with harpoon ready, the men exchange their hard sweat and battle the turbulent sea for a scrumptious meal.

As the harpoonist perches precariously at the bow of the harpoon boat riding the waves from crest to trough, he must maintain laser focus to keep from falling into the sea while keeping an eye out for rogue waves and searching for traces of swordfish. Chenggong is the only place the art of harpoon fishing in pursuit of swordfish is still practiced. The harpoonist relies on his many years of skill and experience, bravery, and maybe some degree of luck to perfectly harpoon the elusive beast.

Chenggong Fishing Harbor is the largest fishing harbor in Taitung. After noon, the fishing boats return to harbor each day to auction their catch for distribution to other locales. The auctioneer calls his staccato pricing and, buyers signal acceptance with a glance, a raised hand, or a nod. If the auctioneer calls a price three times without a taker, he simply moves on to the next lot of fish. This may be the most tense place in all of Taitung!

Chenggong is the only place in Taiwan that houses the swordfish god. The swordfish god is a perfect replica of a giant swordfish. Family members and fishermen come with the utmost sincerity before a sea voyage to pray for a good day’s swordfishing and for a safe return.

當鏢魚人站在船頭的鏢魚台,隨著船隻在翻滾的波濤中載浮載沈,稍一不注意就可能跌落海中,他們必須聚精會神、保持高度專 注,既要注意突如其來的浪襲,又要緊盯著海面找尋旗魚的蹤跡。 鏢旗魚技藝如今只在成功鎮才看得到了,漁民憑藉長年經驗、技巧 與膽量站上船頭,或許還需要加上最無法掌控的運氣,才能完美地 捕到兇猛的旗魚。

成功漁港是台東最大的漁港,平日中午過後,就陸續有漁船入 港,漁貨在此拍賣後轉運其他地方,拍賣魚貨的方式是一位拍賣官 口中以極快速的方式喊價,眼睛則晰利地盯著每一位買家,買家一 個眼神、一個手勢或輕微地點頭,即代表出價,一旦喊價超過 3 次 未再有人出價,就轉往下一批漁貨,這裡或許是全台東情緒最緊張 的地方了吧!

成功大概也是全台灣獨一無二拜著旗魚神的地方,外觀完全是 旗魚的造型,身上塗著藍色的漆,出海前拜一下旗魚神祈求好運, 希望船家能捕到旗魚同時平安歸來。


The painted swordfish god blessing the fisherman’s catch and safe return.
塗裝的頗為可愛的旗魚神,保佑漁民滿載而歸。 (照/姜柷山)


Auctioneers in purple jackets surrounded by buyers and the day’s catch.
穿著紫色衣服的拍賣官與買家,圍繞著一堆堆的 魚貨逐一競標。

Protection for Those Who Ride the Seas

Matsu’s belief was brought to Taiwan by Chinese immigrants and she is one of the most popular gods in Taiwan. Each and every county and town have at least one temple dedicated to Matsu. Every year on Matsu’s birthday, the celebrations at those temples make it clear that Taiwan is crazy about Matsu.

America’s Travel Channel ranked the “Matsu Pilgrimage” as one of the three largest religious activities in the world alongside the Hajj in Mecca and Christmas mass at the Vatican. The United States media outlet, CNN, described the “Matsu Pilgrimage” as the most popular pilgrimage in the world.  And in 2009, UNESCO designated the belief in Matsu as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage.”

Aside from being deemed protector of fishermen, legends of Matsu’s exploits abound in Taiwan. It is believed that it was only by the grace of Matsu’s intervention during the bombings of World War II that the bombs were caused to land in the sea or not explode upon impact, saving the lives of many people. The miracles attributed to Matsu are many. Take some time and chat with the temple staff to learn the many stories of Matsu’s miracles.


媽祖是漢人移民台灣時, 自原鄉帶入的信仰,現在也是 全台最普遍的信仰之一,每個 縣市都有一間以上的媽祖廟, 每到農曆三月媽祖生日時,更 有「全台瘋媽祖」一說,此時, 以祭祀媽祖為主的廟宇都會 舉辦大型的祭祀活動。

美國《旅遊生活頻道》曾將台灣的「媽祖繞境」與「麥加朝 聖之行」及「梵蒂岡耶誕彌撒」 並列為世界三大宗教活動;美 國媒 體《CNN》則形容媽祖遶 境是「全世界最受歡迎的健行 活 動 」。2009 年,「 聯 合 國 教 科文組織」(UNESCO)已將媽 祖信仰列入「世界非物質文化 遺 產 」(Intangible Cultural Heritage)。

媽祖不僅是海 上漁民的 守護神,台灣各地還有一則著 名的媽祖傳說:二次大戰期 間,空襲投彈時,是媽祖彰顯 神力,讓許多炸彈掉在海灘上 或者並未爆開,而保全了人們 的生命;和媽祖有關的神蹟非 常多,到台東市天后宮或是關 山天后宮,一定能聽到很多神 奇的故事。


Matsu is the legendary guardian of the Chinese Seas and the most beloved goddess in Taiwan.


Other gods and deities also come to partake in Matsu’s birthday celebration.
媽祖生日時,其他各路神祗也會來為她慶生。 (照/臺東縣政府)


Taitung City’s Tianhou (Mazu) Temple was built more than one hundred years ago.


When you want to eat, go and catch whatever it is you want from the sea.

The Great Natural Refrigerator

Taitung’s Amis people often say, “the sea is our refrigerator.”  If you want fish, shrimp, crab, just jump into the ocean and search for what you want. Amis women are often seen carrying handmade tools in the tidal areas, prying and prodding and in a short time gathering shellfish and seaweed to take home for dinner. The Amis people truly coexist harmoniously with their surrounding sea.

To coexist with the ocean, it is imperative to follow its natural rhythm. With the ar rival of spring, the Amis begin building bamboo rafts and collecting foods from the tidal areas. In the summer and fall, they go to sea to fish. As autumn fades and winter approaches and the northeast monsoon picks up, water temperatures recede, reducing the number of fishing trips the Amis people take to the mountains to hunt.

Because their lives are so intertwined with the ocean, the Amis have naturally developed a belief in the ocean. In the summer and fall, tribal villages hold many festivals celebrating the sea or fishing. The elders teach the knowledge of the ocean and fishing to the young. Any fish caught during the ocean festival are presented to the elders and shared with the entire village.


台東的阿美族人嘴邊常掛著一句話「海就是我們的冰箱。」晚上想吃魚、蝦、螃蟹, 甚至海膽,跳進海裡去找就是了。也常見到阿美族婦女帶著自製的工具在潮間帶的 礁石邊敲敲弄弄,不一會兒就弄下許多螺和貝,也順手採集些海菜回家食用,這是 阿美族人與海共生的方式。

與海共生,就要順應海的節奏,春天來臨時族人可以開始製作竹筏,也可以在 潮間帶採集物資,接著夏秋都可以下海捕撈漁獲,入了秋下海次數減少,到冬天東 北季風強勁且水溫也低,阿美族人就會改成上山狩獵。

因為和海的生活如此密切,自然而然發展出與海有關的信仰。每年夏秋兩季, 各部落陸續舉行海祭或捕魚祭,年長者傳授海洋知識及漁撈技巧給少年,海祭期間 捕獲的魚獻給長者,並與部落共享。

The Yami People and the Sea

The ability to observe the distant waves and determine if the day is more suited to fishing or diving is one of the particular abilities shared by all Orchid Island residents. It is a small island surrounded by a vast ocean. All aspects of life here are dependent upon the sea.  The ability to read the ocean’s emotion, whether before a typhoon, as its currents change, or a calm sea,  is a critical survival skill Orchid Island residents possess.

The vast resources of the ocean feed the populace of Orchid Island, and the sea has a profound impact on their lives each and every day. The flying fish, plentiful in this ocean, determine the Orchid island residents’ rituals, lives, and schedules. February through June is considered the actual f lying fish festival, and the festival season ends from July through September. The following year’s flying fish festival’s approach occurs from October to January, without catching many breaks.  You can say that life on the island is dictated by the sea ocean and its flying fish.

During the flying fish festival, women are forbidden from coming in contact with the hand-carved tatala fishing boats. The Yami (Tao) tribe has many taboos about which fish may be eaten and which may not and regarding how to treat the caught fish. The Yami people’s respect for life and inclination to protect nature are the basis behind these taboos.


看著遠方的浪,判斷今日是否適合海釣,或者潛水,或許是每個蘭嶼人具備的 特異功能。小島面積不大,四面則是大大的海洋,生活中的一切都與海有關,颱風 天前的海、流向改變的海、平靜的海,對蘭嶼人來說,學會觀察海的情緒是必的生 活技能之一。

海中豐富的資源,也餵養了蘭嶼人,大海深深影響蘭嶼人的日常生活,而海中 的飛魚,則決定了蘭嶼人什麼時候該做什麼事,每年 2  6 月是飛魚的季節、 9 月是飛魚魚撈結束的季節、11 月至隔年 1 月則是飛魚即將來臨的季節,可以說島上 的生活都圍繞著海和飛魚。

飛魚祭期間禁止女性觸碰船隻,捕到的魚哪些可吃哪些不可以吃,捕獲的魚該 如何處理,都有許多的禁忌,禁忌的背後,有著傳統達悟人尊重生命,維護自然的 生活智慧。


Traditional Yami (Tao) tatalas docked on the rocky beach of Orchid Island. The handcarved fishing boats are considered sacred, so it’s important to be respectful and not touch the tatalas when visiting the island.

Flavors of Sea Life

Following its natural rhythms is the way to coexist with the ocean harmoniously. In tribal villages, the philosophy of coexistence is put into practice in their daily life. Unique to Orchid Island, the Yami (Tao) fishermen catch certain fish varieties for men, women, and the elderly to avoid depleting resources. After the end of the flying fish season, they no longer catch or consume flying fish, and the Yami fishermen will begin to fish for other species. Their ancestors’ rituals and taboos for the flying fish season help prevent overfishing – maintaining a holistic balance with nature. The Amis tribe also shares this same wisdom of the ocean. At the Amis Harvest Festival, the elders teach the youth to take only what they need and not be greedy, allowing the sea to rejuvenate itself.


Salt cured flying fish hanging on racks soaking up the sun – a common sight on Orchid Island during flying fish season.


順應海的節奏,是與大海共生的方法,在部落,共生哲學更是徹底實踐,達悟 族人在飛魚季節來臨時就只吃飛魚,其他魚種不吃,而飛魚季結束,則改為捕撈其 他魚種,不能再吃飛魚,多餘的飛魚則可製成魚乾,各種繁複的規矩讓蘭嶼的海洋 資源始終能夠存續。有著和海洋一樣開朗性格的阿美族人,也有相似的智慧,長者 藉由海祭教導部落裡的少年,只取生存所需,不可貪多,讓大海也能休息。

In the early morning hours, you can see small boats floating on the ocean. Many fishing harbors are scattered over the entire length of the Taitung coast, and you early birds will have the first choice of the freshest catch of the day. Small fishing boats go out before dawn and return before the sun gains maximum strength. Their catch will be served as someone’s tasty lunch that same day. The larger species caught by the longer haul vessels are sold at auction and quickly make their way to your local grocery markets. Those born in Taitung are used to only the freshest fish and will not budge on the freshness insistence.  Travelers should not miss the opportunity to sample Taitung’s superb seafood. But, be careful, you too may become picky!

Is living in Taitung a blessing or “luxury” in disguise? Perhaps transportation is less convenient than other places, but you will only eat the freshest, in-season vegetables and fish in the villages. Perhaps there is less industrial development, but you can enjoy breathtaking natural scenery any time without spending a penny. For sure in Taitung you will miss out on the big annual department store sales, but perhaps there is something gained by patiently awaiting the goods you ordered online. Living in Taitung means giving some things up, but it also means gaining some things in return. You gain in life and soul – these are the things you can’t obtain in places elsewhere.

台東從南到北有許多漁港,常常可在清晨望見小船在海上載沉載浮。小魚船每天清晨出海捕撈,在日曬灼人之前靠岸,船上的魚中午就上了人們的餐桌;或者前 一晚出門海釣上來的魚貨,早上在市場裡就能買到,遠洋漁船上了岸,經過拍賣, 各類大型魚種也能快速進入市場。許多台東出生的孩子吃慣了新鮮的魚獲,對新鮮 度可是有著很高的堅持,旅人們不要錯過品嚐台東海鮮的機會,但可也要小心養刁 了嘴。

這也是一種奢侈吧?雖然交通上不若其他地方便利,但在小村落就能享有最當令 的新蔬鮮魚;雖然產業不若其他地方發達,卻不需花錢就能時時享有懾人心魂的自 然美景;雖然與百貨公司週年慶無緣,但等待網購商品送達的瞬間何嘗不是一種幸 福。在捨與得之間,台東人擁有的,是生活,是靈魂。