Anyone who knows me knows that I like to drive fast. But this time it wasn't 300 km/h by car, but in the high-speed train from Taipei to Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan. A place known to us nature lovers for its show aquarium stocked with whale sharks. While I am all for public aquariums, the large aquariums in Asia do make me wonder. Although millions of locals admire the sharks and whale sharks in the aquariums, they don’t seem to make the connection to shark protection. Shark fin soup is still the main reason for the slaughter of about 100,000,000 sharks every year!
Travelling by train in Japan and Taiwan is a real experience. Not because of their top speed of 300 km/h, but because of their punctuality. Unbelievably, you can actually plan your day, including a return trip, to the minute. This is unthinkable in Germany. The trains in Japan have an average delay of 2 minutes throughout the year!!! Why aren’t we sending Deutsche Bahn employees to Japan as trainees? Probably because the train wouldn’t get them to the airport on time and they’d miss their flight.
Our JBL importer had planned two seminars in Taiwan: one in Taipei and one in Kaohsiung. The main focus centred around the results of our JBL research expeditions and what the aquatic field can learn from them. Biotope aquatics is a big issue in Asia and so the seminar participants were very interested in seeing underwater images from different habitats and then the explanations on how to recreate the biotopes with their water chemistry and the help of aquarium equipment. This was really fun! A lot of participants initially wanted to set up a real Amazon aquarium. But underwater pictures from the whitewater of the Amazon quickly changed their minds, because it looks more like bacterial turbidity than anything Amazonian. Blackwater, as found in the Rio Negro is more attractive. However, the pH value there is 4 to 4.5 with no carbonate and general hardness. This would make the water very unstable and only suitable for fish such as the cardinal tetra, which can live in this hostile biotope. JBL Tropol allows every aquarist to imitate the very clear "blackwater" of the rivers without having an aquarium full of brown soup.
These were two pleasant seminar days in Taiwan and I enjoyed the evening walks through Taipei. The temples and night markets were open and generally very lively. One highlight for me was watching the Kendo training. After more than twenty years of martial arts something like this is a real experience. Early next morning we went on our way again, this time to Japan…