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During the Yuan dynasty, the Dongsha Islands were located in the South China Sea islands and made up of coral sand and shell fragments, they were collectively referred to as "Changsha" or "Shitang." "Shitang" meant an expanse of water surrounded by stone, while large and small islands and numerous reefs in the South China Sea seemed like stones spread out in water, thus giving the ancients the impression of "Shitang". "Shitang" "Wanli Shitang" "Shixing Shitang" on the nautical charts of Zheng He's voyages to the western seas contain Dongsha. During the Qing Dynasty years, Dongsha was officially named "Nanaoqi". "Nanao" referred to near the mainland. "Qi" was at the intersection of two ocean currents. In addition, fishermen at that time also referred to Dongsha Island as "Fengku," supposedly because the wind was blowing and struck Dongsha Island like firecrackers. Until Qing Dynasty navigator Xie Qing-gao in his oral account explained "Hailu": Dongsha as quicksand in the sea, also in the east of Guangzhou Wanshan, so used Dongsha for the island name and continued to use into the future. When the Portuguese saw the Dongsha Islands in the far distance at the sea then, coral sand reflected light of silver glitter, so Dongsha Island was also called Pratas (Silver Island).

 

South China Sea Islands map (source: Ministry of the Interior, R.O.C)
South China Sea Islands map
(source: Ministry of the Interior, R.O.C)

 

The early days Dongsha waters on the maritime Silk Road route was an important East-West sea trade routes. Ships of various nations frequently came and went. And local waters terrain has many reefs, and often there were typhoons. Then sunken ship record left to date still retains many shipwreck stories; people cannot help but fall into the 16th century fantasy scenarios of maritime history and legends:

“Beautiful, in fact, fierce white waves
Wave after wave, the sea swallowed the ship, ate the captain and the sailor and spit out piece,
But cannot digest countless silver.
In its stomach, at the end of a deep, deep blue vortex.”

 

Phosphate mining imagination map (source: Shitang adventure e-books)
Phosphate mining imagination map
(source: Shitang adventure e-books)
Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (source: Shitang adventure e-books)
Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie
(source: Shitang adventure e-books)

In addition to the ancient mainland fishermen, the Netherlands, the Portuguese explorers or traders, the Japanese also had landed at Dongsha Island to construct housing and acquire phosphorus ore and other natural resources, and finally the Qing court and Japan mutually agreed to let the Qing court recover the Dongsha Island, but the island’s wealth of economically valuable phosphorus ore had been mined and exhausted.

 

Today’s Dongsha, although not rich in minerals, still has the complete resources feature and unique atoll terrain, high seas biodiversity. In 2007, the "Dongsha Atoll National Park" was established and officially became the 7th national park in the country; it is also the first marine type of national park and takes environmental resource conservation and restoration, deepening the academic study of marine as operation management objectives. Given Dongsha Island’s remoteness, making it limited by transport, fresh water and food supply, accommodation and climatic conditions and other objective environment, at this stage it is still not proper to open regular sightseeing activities. However, to consider the needs of people on government information disclosure, the department is planning by its official website(https://www.marine.gov.tw) , Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/海洋國家公園管理處/378932448797389) and other electronic media to continue to actively promote Dongsha Atoll National Park local ecological environment and the latest news, and welcomes all of you to be concerned at any time.

 

Dongsha Atoll National Park(source: Marine National Park Headquarters)
Dongsha Atoll National Park
(source: Marine National Park Headquarters)

 

 

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