The Haomei Village Nature Reserve is found in the west coast of Chiayi County, specifically in the township of Budai. This is a protected area untouched by any form of development. The village lies to the north of Bajhang River. Because this is where Bajhang and Longgong rivers converge, the area is very rich in natural resources. It has a mangrove forest, an offshore sandbar, thick forests that can withstand harsh winds and protect the nearby village, and a lagoon. These natural treasures are the reason why the place was designated as a protected area.
A thick growth of mangrove forest is found on the northern part of the lagoon. The growth is dominated by species of Avicennia. Some Kandelia species are also found, as well as two more species of mangrove trees that were introduced in the area. Having four different species of mangrove trees in Haomei Village Nature Reserve makes it an important ecological site. Mangrove ecosystems are significant because they protect the coastline from erosion caused by strong waves and harsh wind. They also serve as habitat for many animals.
It is absolutely imperative that you include a trip to the nature reserve in your itinerary when you visit Chiayi. You will see diverse kinds of animals. The reserve is perfect for bird watching because many different kinds of birds go there to take shelter in the natural habitat.
Haomei Village Nature Reserve also protects crabs, which ironically are very sought after at the seafood market not far from the reserve. The crabs are not really endemic to Taiwan, but in this area they are easily available and exist in large numbers. The crab species found here are Uca lactea or fiddler crab, Mictyris brevidactylus or soldier crab, and Tachypleus tridentatus or three-spine horseshoe crab. Fiddler crabs have one small and one very large claw. Soldier crabs have a light blue shell. Horseshoe crabs are greenish gray in color. In 2005, a nursing ground of horseshoe crabs was discovered in the reserve.
The village does not only display amazing natural wonders; it also showcases the customs of the fisherfolk who live in the area. The fishers in the village make a living primarily by growing oysters and fish. In the deeper parts of the lagoon, the fishers set up bamboo oyster racks where oysters grow and breed. When the oysters are ready, the fishers harvest them from the racks. Afterward, the racks are returned to the water to allow new oysters to grow. The southern part of the lagoon is used mainly for breeding fish, and many fishponds are found in that area.
Going to the different parts of the Haomei Village Nature Reserve does not only allow you to observe unique plants and animals that you do not see every day; it also helps you to appreciate the riches of nature. It gives you an opportunity to see the interaction of various living organisms in different kinds of ecosystems. The reserve will give you a deeper understanding of the importance of conserving natural resources and biodiversity.