Spotted seals get special attention
Updated: 2014-05-02 10:10
By Zhu Chengpei and Zhang Xiaomin (China Daily)
On a small island in Liaodong Bay, Ma Zhiqiang takes pictures, counts the numbers and makes notes about the islands's inhabitants - spotted seals. [Photo by Zhang Xiaomin / China Daily]
For years, a researcher from the Liaoning Ocean and Fisheries Science Research Institute has made meticulous observations of a Liaodong Bay island's special inhabitants. Zhu Chengpei and Zhang Xiaomin report in Dalian.
The dull roar of the engine lasted for about an hour as the boat headed across the aquaculture area to a small island in Liaodong Bay of the Bohai Sea. Ma Zhiqiang, 55, motioned for the boatman to reduce speed so as not to disturb the animals there.
In recent years, Ma, a professor at the Liaoning Ocean and Fisheries Science Research Institute, has always stayed on the island for several days in spring - alone.
It is an uninhabited island, called Piantuozi, whose area is no more than 5,000 square meters and is 8 kilometers from the mainland of Jinzhou New Area of Dalian, Liaoning province.
There, his life focuses on spotted seals (phoca largha), the only pinniped mammals - those with finlike feet or flippers - that breed in China.
He takes pictures, counts the numbers and takes notes on everything he sees - how many are resting on the beach, how many are swimming, and what they are doing.
"Liaodong Bay is the southernmost of the eight breeding regions for spotted seals in the northern Pacific Ocean. Only about 1,000 of them return to their winter home in China," Ma says.
While speaking of these cute animals with round heads and big eyes, the quiet scholar becomes talkative.