March 2nd 2023
A 50-minute sick-inducing ferry from near Dulan takes me out into the wide Pacific Ocean and to Green Island (Lyudao). Originally known as Sanasai in the language of the aboriginal Amis, it is a small island with roughly three settlements and a ring road of only 18km. It is one of those places where no one cares to check your driving licence, just go rent a scooter and have fun.
For my entire stay however, I was adrift in a moving swirl of nausea. The sea-sickness I had from the boat - where blood was actually drained from the top of my body and my hands were left shaking from the constant G-forces - didn't want to leave me. This phenomenon is called Mal de Debarquement syndrome, and basically sent me dizzy any time I wasn't in motion. Happily it has gone at the time of writing, but it lasted a good 4 days.
We snorkelled a few times and saw some fish, but the big guns came after our hostel offered to give us a scuba diving taster session at a discount. We were the only visitors, and due to the return boat being pushed back a few days by the weather, they made us feel very welcome. The sort of welcome where I'd come back to the island purely for their hospitality.
It was my first diving experience and it was interesting, though wasn't without it's problems. Notably, at the start I found it physically difficult to breath because the waist strap was too tight, and throughout the 40-minute dive water was constantly filling up my goggles, likely because a proper seal couldn't form around my moustache (I guess you don't see many bearded divers?). After I got past the initial panic response of being submerged tied to heavy equipment, there was a reward in the form of a couple of highly venomous sea kraits (snakes), (green?) sea turtles, and clown fish.
A lot of tied up 'pet' sika deer on the island
The island is also covered in what is quite close to a rainforest, biodiversity-wise anyway. There were several agamids (Diploderma swinhonis), my favourite family of lizards (if you have one?), as well as golden orb-web spiders (Nephila pilipes). These spiders, although absolutely giant, are very tricky to identify while walking, which is fun because they like to hang out at exactly face height apparently.
The largest one we found, certainly the size of my hand, was jiggling about and doing something rather interesting.
Did you see it, on its back?
The little red thing?
That is actually a male trying to mate, mission impossible style. Although mate cannibalism is very rare in this species, females can still get annoyed and often try to kick males off. To combat this, males will try to deposit silks covered in pheromones to calm her, as you can see above picture.
The sort of huge sexual dimorphism you see here is quite common in spiders, but it is thought that the golden orb-web spider actually holds the world record for size disparity (for land animals anyway). Good luck fellas.