Not Just the Queen's Head

Geology and History in Yeliu
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2018 / October

Lee Shan Wei /photos courtesy of Jimmy Lin /tr. by Bruce Humes


A host of oddly shaped, jagged

 hoo­doo outcrops are strikingly arrayed on Ye­­liu Cape, which extends 1.7 kilometers into the ocean. With a landscape virtually unmatched elsewhere, in 2003 it became the site of Taiwan’s first-ever “geopark.” Endowed with rich wildlife, sea life and bird life, its reputation has spread far and wide. 

Thanks to the barrier formed by the cape, more than 300 years ago Ye­liu was already the largest natural fishing port on the North Coast. But in the wake of a sharp decline in fish catches, and with Ye­liu Village’s limited land area, business, academia and government have joined hands in a forceful effort to overcome adversity. Together they are harnessing the local culture and the affection for the land prevalent in this fishing community in order to conserve Yeliu’s unique topography.

 


 

Ancient sediments

Six million years ago, two tectonic giants—the Philippine Sea Plate and the Eurasian Plate—collided, kickstarting the Peng­lai Orogeny, a mountain­-building process that caused the island of Taiwan to slowly emerge from the ocean. Today, on Taiwan’s North Coast, projecting into the East China Sea, there lies like a sleeping beauty a slender-bodied, slim-waisted swathe of land 1.7 kilo­meters long and 250 meters wide: Yeliu Cape, which is home to Yeh­liu Geopark. Covering a mere 24 hectares, this “living geology classroom” has won high praise from geologists worldwide. 

Like the annual growth rings of trees, the strata (layers) of rock that are formed by the accumulation of sediment on the seabed over millions of years bear witness to the earth’s evolution. When powerful movements of the earth’s crust thrust these rock strata above the surface of the sea, they may be sculpted by the wind and the waves into new forms—such as those that are exposed to human view at Ye­liu, in New Tai­pei City’s ­Wanli District.

As you stroll in Yeh­liu Geopark, clearly visible underfoot are the “body fossils” of creatures unique to Taiwan, such as Astriclypeus yeliuensis and Echinodiscus yeliuensis, two species of “sand dollar” sea urchins from the early Miocene era. Other signs of life, like cavities where shallow-­water sea creatures foraged or sheltered, have formed precious “trace fossils.” These fossils are found in Ye­liu’s principal rock strata, those of the Da­liao Miocene Formation, which dates from 20‡24 million years ago.

Yeliu’s rock strata are comprised mainly of limestone, shale and calcareous sandstone stacked one upon another. These layers of rock are of varying degrees of hardness, and when undergoing erosion by wind, rain and seawater, some are transformed into granules of fine sand that are carried away by wind or waves, while the nodules of more resistant material within them are left behind, standing their ground tenaciously. The composition of each rock therefore differs depending on which ingredients have been retained or lost, and it is these materials—subsequently carved by the deft hands of Mother Nature—that give Ye­liu’s outcrops their varied and fantastical looks.

Living geology

Established in 1964 as the Yeh­liu Scenic Area, Yeh­liu Geopark offers beautiful sights wherever you look. “The array of candle-shaped rocks here is the most complete anywhere in the world,” proudly remarks Marti C.C. Yang, the geopark’s general manager. Some 180 mushroom-shaped boulders are clustered in the park, and their dynamism is striking. Helena Tang, assistant general manager, who has worked at the park for over two decades, observes that “the colors of the rocks change with the seasons.” One pair that look just like a man and a woman formerly directed their gazes frontward; but now, it seems that his face has turned to look at hers. “Ye­liu’s rocks are alive,” exclaims Tang.

The rocks in the geopark contain many discrete “joints,” or crevices. These are points where a weakened rock layer is silently releasing pressure, the layer has split into two, or has been flattened into a channel. The downward force continually proceeds from shallow to deep, and will eventually result in a “sea-eroded trench.”

The park’s most renowned attraction, the Queen’s Head, named for its resemblance to the famous bust of Queen Ne­fer­titi in the collection of the Egyptian Museum of Berlin, has stood at Ye­liu for more than 4,000 years. Notes Yang: “The thinnest part of the queen’s neck now measures just 124.6 centimeters around.” Alarmingly, Ye­liu’s principal landmark is on the verge of collapse.

Eco-friendly education

“We should not seek to work against the power of nature, but we can avoid inflicting manmade damage,” says Yang. In 2006, the government commissioned Neo-Space International Co., Ltd. to manage Yeh­liu Geopark. The firm vigorously urges visitors to follow the instructions of the park guides, keep to the boardwalks, and refrain from striking or touching the rocks, or trampling the landscape.

“We designed our plans according to UNESCO’s concept of the ‘Global Geopark,’” says Yang. The number of visitors to the park peaked in 2014, setting a new annual high of 3.3 million and a new daily high of 19,500. “From the standpoint of environmental protection, I must consider the park’s capacity.” Neo-Space focuses on environmental education. In 2012, the geopark was certified by the Environmental Protection Agency as an “eco-education” site. “We have arranged 13 curriculums, and seven of them have been certified.”

In the words of their elders

In 2004, Helena Tang established the Va­sai Fishing Village Culture Association, which takes its name from the Va­sai people, a branch of the Ke­ta­ga­lan Aborigines. Tang was elected chairwoman, and she put her heart into working with the association to preserve precious historical materials. Based on in-depth interviews, the association has published three books chronicling the lifestyle and history of the “Va­sai Fishing Village”of Ye­liu. Since 2012, more than 170 tours and activities have been organized, bringing renown to the village.

With the Guide to Va­sai Fishing Village Culture and Relics in hand, strolling through the rising and falling terrain and along the snaking lanes, you might be surprised to learn that—like Lu­kang—Ye­liu has a narrow “Breast Brushing Alley.” The Va­sai Cultural Center, named “Va­sai Residence,” has in recent years become a must-see site for exploring fishing-village culture. Thanks to Tang’s boundless creativity, the “Cultural Carnival”—featuring such activities as the Palanquin Parade, the Harbor Cleansing Ritual, Mazu’s Homecoming, Getting to Know Local Seafood, DIY Seaweed Noodles, and Savoring Wanli Crabs—closely links Yeliu’s geological landscape with fishing-village culture by involving traditional religion, local foodstuffs and community participation.

The association has published Yeh­liu Geopark on Foot: Fishing Gear and Techniques, which details the evolution of fishing knowhow since antiquity. Borrowing a classroom from Yeh­liu Elementary School, it has also set up a small museum to preserve and display fishing gear from earlier times, ensuring that visitors and the next generation can more deeply experience fishing-village culture.

Testament to local spirit

“Stone clock, stone breasts, a carp jumps out of the water, a mouse sucks on a cat’s nipple.” To vividly evoke the hardship of life in years gone by, Tang recites an earthy Taiwanese­-language saying that alludes to several famous formations, including a pair of conical candle-shaped rocks and the Carp Rock behind them. Of course, a mouse is playing with its life if it tries to suckle at a cat’s teats. “Below Carp Rock was a trench,” explains Tang. “Since seaweed was abundant in that spot and promised a good harvest, all the local women wanted to collect seaweed there.” But the terrain was treacherous, the wind strong, the waves wily, and the rock surfaces slippery. If one fell in, one would be lucky to survive.

“Life in the fishing village was very arduous, for the ocean is a coffin without a lid,” says Tang with emotion. 

As marine resources have been exhausted, it is the people who earned their livelihood from the sea who feel it the hardest. “Local women have always played a role in supporting their families,” says Tang. Two octogenarian grandmothers, fishermen’s wives Lin-Liu Bi­lan and Lin-Fang Cai­yun, have lived through Ye­liu’s good times and bad. 

“There’s no time to lose. If we don’t hurry, it will soon be too late.” Through the words of the elderly, the book Golden Times of Yesteryear documents a culture that is disappearing, preserving memories that would otherwise be lost. The association leads the way for residents to fully participate in preserving historical materials and cultural relics.   

“The Queen’s Head is not our only attraction,” asserts Tang. “All of Ye­liu is a treasure house.” The tower­ing cuesta in the park is lush and hosts more than 200 plant species. Its broad­leaved woodland is a paradise where migratory birds can pause on their journey. To date, nearly 300 species have been recorded. Two ocean currents, rich in nutrients, bring diverse marine life and offer great research value.

Down the ages, Ye­liu Cape has watched over its people living between mountain and sea. Says Tang: “If you have love in your heart, you are bound to radiate light and warmth; if you have a vision in your heart, you are sure to build a robust dream.” Located amongst treasures bequeathed from on high, the residents of Ye­liu have not disappointed their benefactor, and they intend to guard them lovingly and pass them on from generation to generation.

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迤邐長達1.7公里的野柳岬,風貌迥異的嶙峋奇石,氣勢磅礡地列陳其上。千古以來,宛若鑲嵌在北海岸上的五彩寶石,隨著四季輪替,幻化出璀璨的光芒。舉世罕見的珍稀地景,2003年成為全台第一座地質公園,集結陸、海、空的豐富自然生態,在國際間聲名遠揚。

憑恃岬灣的天然屏障,三百多年前,野柳已然成為北海岸最大的天然漁港。矗立在東海上的單面山,彷彿昂首傲視的靈龜,在詭譎洶湧的波濤中,堅毅守護著野柳漁村。隨著漁獲量的銳減,蕞爾腹地的侷限,產官學攜手,力圖翻轉,用對鄉土的愛,豐富的漁村人文,守護野柳地景。

 


 

沉積數千萬年的甦醒

600萬年前,「菲律賓海板塊」碰撞「歐亞大陸板塊」,啟動了「蓬萊造山運動」,台灣島緩緩浮出海面。東北角上,插入東海的岬角,像是躺臥的睡美人,修長的身形,長達1.7公里,苗條的腰線,僅有250公尺寬,它就是野柳地質公園。雖然只有區區24公頃,卻受到世界地質專家無盡的讚嘆。「野柳最珍貴的地方,就是它的地質環境。」野柳地質公園總經理楊景謙說。差距多達數百萬年的不同地層,不約而同站上地表舞台,是地質學上的活教室。

地層就是地球演化的年輪,當地殼變動時,使出洪荒之力,把數千萬年前,沉積在海平面下數千公尺的岩層們,逐一喚醒。這股強大的推升力量,硬生生地把海底跨越千萬年的演化,膠結堅硬的岩石層,毫無保留的裸露在天地間。繼而在風與海的雕琢下,以全新面貌,在野柳與世人相遇。

走在野柳地質公園中,腳下清晰可見台灣特有的野柳星盾海膽、圓碟海膽等生物的「實體化石」。以及在演進洪流中,淺海生物覓食、躲藏的孔穴,這些生命軌跡,形成了珍貴的「生痕化石」。這些化石,見證野柳地區的主要岩層,是距今2,000到2,400萬年前,新生代中新世野柳群大寮層。而這個屬於淺海相的地層,又直接沉積在具有豐富濱海植物,更古老的木山層上,兩者一起抬升浮出海面,使野柳岩層構造,更加錯綜複雜。

像是五花肉切面的帶狀岩塊中,宛如肌肉的水平和交錯層理,細膩述說著千萬年間,久遠的環境變化。野柳地層主要由石灰質砂岩、頁岩、鈣質砂岩相互堆疊組成。這些硬度不同的岩層,在風雨和海水浸蝕的造化下,有些化為細沙,隨風逐浪而逝,有些堅硬的「結核」,固守陣地,頑強屹立不搖。每塊岩石中,去留的成分各有不同,造就野柳在大自然的巧手下,雕琢鏤刻出多變的奇特風貌。

活的地質,吸引全世界駐足

1964年成立的野柳風景區,一直是台灣人最美的記憶,蕈狀岩、薑石、燭台石,觸目所見都是美景。「完整陣列式的燭台石,可說是世界唯一。」楊景謙以野柳為傲。180個蕈狀岩集結在園區內,氣勢令人震懾。「石頭的顏色,四季都不同。」野柳地質公園副總經理湯錦惠說。有一對酷似男女的蕈狀石,原本一齊望向前方,現在竟然發現男生的臉已經轉向女生。在園區服務二十多年的湯錦惠直呼:「野柳的石頭是活的。」

地質公園中一條條像下水道的「節理」,都是脆弱的岩層在默默地釋放壓力,或是讓岩石碎裂兩半,或是讓平面成為溝渠。那股下切的力道,由淺而深,不斷進行,最終成為海蝕溝。「我們每天都要巡守園區,記錄環境的變化。」因為風雨把岩石裡的鐵離子沖刷出來,隨著水分滲入「節理」中,造成色澤多變的紋理。「野柳的風化紋,是極具特色的特殊地貌。」

最負盛名的女王頭,已經佇立在野柳地質公園四千多年,歷經萬劫,風化浪淘,才得成型。「現在女王頭頸部最細的部位,只剩下124.6公分。」楊景謙說。比對老照片中,半世紀以來的變遷,風化、海蝕的巨大力量,讓人無比驚愕,也憂心野柳地標瀕臨倒塌,岌岌可危。「地質學家都在預測,它什麼時候會斷頭?」昔日共同的美好回憶,而今卻要殘酷地面對它毀滅的危機,真是情何以堪?

環境教育,保育珍貴資源

「我們不應該去逆轉大自然的力量,但是可以不做人為的破壞。」楊景謙說。2002年台灣大學地理環境資源學系教授林俊全,曾對野柳的地景保育進行深入研究。2006年新空間國際有限公司受政府委託經營,管理野柳地質公園。在解說員大力宣導帶領下,依循園區木棧道的動線參觀,避免遊客碰觸、撫摸、踩踏珍稀地景。

「我們是用世界地質公園的理念,進行規劃。」楊景謙說。野柳的遊客數,在2014年達到歷史巔峰,創下一年入園人數330萬的新高,單日最高達1萬9,500人。「站在環境保護的立場,我必須考量園區的承載力。」遊人如織,沒有讓楊景謙忘卻初衷。新空間關注的,不只是商業營利,更把環境教育,列為重要的經營項目。2012年獲得環保署環境教育場域認證,「我們安排了13套課程,有7套得到認證。」

在耆老口中,留住文化軌跡

2004年湯錦惠用平埔族音譯的「瑪鋉」為名,成立新北市萬里區瑪鋉漁村文化生活協會(以下簡稱:協會),並當選理事長,共同為保存漁村珍貴史料投注心力。「野柳有很多值得保存的漁具、漁法,卻因為耆老日漸凋零,可能都要失傳。」一股愛鄉里的熱情,讓原本在家相夫教子的婦女們,勇敢的站出來。「如果我們不做,下一代都不知道祖先是怎麼生活的。」協會透過深度訪談,出版了3本書,記述瑪鋉漁村的身世。2012年至今做了一百七十餘場漁村導覽和活動,把瑪鋉漁村的聲名打響。

拿著《瑪鋉漁村文物導覽手册》,遊走在高低起伏,彎曲狹窄的巷弄間,驚嘆野柳也有摸乳巷。刻意保存的土角厝,粗糙斑剝的咕硓石,像滿臉風霜的老人,述說著數百年來,海口人的智慧。瑪鋉文化館——「瑪鋉居」,這幾年來成為探索漁村人文的重鎮。「屋前小廣場,辦過桌,好熱鬧。」文化嘉年華——來弄輦、魚陣、神明淨港文化祭、野柳媽祖回娘家遶境、來呷討海飯、藻麵DIY、感蟹萬里,創意無限的湯錦惠,配合傳統宗教信仰,運用在地食材和社區參與,把野柳的地景和漁村人文緊緊密合。

野柳最有名的「棒受網」漁業,捕撈趨光性的魚類。「由罟母船、罟仔船、火船,三條船12個人一起出海作業。」協會不僅出版《走看野柳》,詳細記載古早的漁法和演進,並且由野柳國小提供一間教室,設立「漁村生活館」,把古早的漁具保存展示,讓遊客和下一代深入體驗漁村人文。

港邊堆疊如山的螃蟹籠,不時入港卸貨的漁船,顯示野柳港依然是近海漁業的重鎮。「蟹籠如果生鏽,就抓不到螃蟹了。」協會總幹事蔡彩芳透露出漁民才知道的小祕密。接地氣的導覽,充滿感性與知性,飽含原汁原味的生命力。

「石鐘、石乳、鯉魚進水,老鼠吃貓乳。」湯錦惠指著園區內燭台石旁的鯉魚石,用當地流傳的台語俗諺,傳神地表達出野柳人討生活的艱辛。「那個下面是一個海溝,海菜很豐富,以前的海女,都想去那裡作業,可以多一些收獲。」但是因為地形險惡,風急浪猛,岩石濕滑,一旦掉下去,凶多吉少。

瑪鋉再起,展現海口人氣魄

「漁村的生活是很艱苦的,海是沒有蓋子的棺木。」想到昔日站在家中陽台,海風呼嘯,手中牽著稚齡的兒女,遠遠地看著夫婿出海作業。那種無助、企盼的悲淒,湯錦惠至今仍深印在腦海中。

海洋資源的枯竭,漁民感受最深。「有時候沒有捕到魚,回來都垂頭喪氣。」風險很高,但是收獲不見得成正比。「野柳的漁婦一直都會幫忙家裡生計。」高齡八十多歲的海女阿嬤林劉碧蘭、林方彩雲的海海人生,看盡野柳的滄海桑田。

「我們覺得很急迫,再不抓緊時間,就會來不及了。」《歲月流金》記述消逝中的文化軌跡,由耆老口中,保留住即將消失的記憶。「這張野柳文化地圖是用手繪的,上面的說明,也是協會理事寫的。」協會引領社區居民深度參與史料文物的保存。「每次活動的道具以及文創作品,都是我們親手做的。」蔡彩方驕傲的說。

「我們不只有女王頭,整個野柳都是寶庫。」湯錦惠說。園區內高聳的單面山鬱鬱蔥蔥,孕育了兩百多種植物。闊葉林則成為候鳥過境棲息的天堂,至今記錄幾近有300種。養分充裕的兩股洋流,帶來多樣性的海洋生物,極具研究價值。

千古以來,野柳岬默默守護著山海間的純樸子民,「心中有愛,必定發光發熱;心中有願景,也必定築夢踏實。」湯錦惠說。坐擁天賜珍寶,野柳人沒有辜負上天的恩澤,要用愛守護,代代傳承。

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