March 15, 2017

2985 SOUTH KOREA (South Jeolla) - Suncheon Bay - part of Southwestern Coast Tidal Flats (UNESCO WHS - Tentative List)

2985 Sunset at the tidal flats of Waon Village in Suncheon Bay

The Tidal Flats on the southwest coast of Korea, distributed in Gomso Bay, Yeoja Bay, and Hamhae Bay and the Sinan archipelagos, are unique macrotidal flats where typical embayed tidal flats turn into open-coast tidal flats during the monsoons. They have no barrier islands like other tidal flats in the Yellow Sea. During winter, strong waves create sand flats, while in summer, the mud flats expand as tidal currents overpower the waves. The seasonal change is very clear along the coastlines.

The tidal flats on the southwest coast of Korea were created when sediment began to accumulate along the coastline, beginning 7,000 years ago when the Yellow Sea began to level out, ending the rapid rise of the sea level from 20,000 years ago. This tidal flats also serve as a stopover for migratory birds flying to Siberia on the East Asia Flyway. Annually, about 1 million birds of 300 species stop by this site. It is also home to some 150 species of macrobenthos, and the once damaged colonies of halophytes are thriving on the land today. Diverse wild plants and animals live on the islands.

Located between Yeosu and Goheung peninsulas, Suncheon Bay is a coastal wetland, consisting of brackish water, earth and sand, transported in by the river and accumulated over time by the tide of the sea, forming an extensive sandbar. The land frequently called a swamp is the transition region between land and sea. It is also called "the swirl of life" and "the lungs of earth," due to the many lifeforms that live in it. Mullet from the mudflats of Muan is a local delicacy that was offered at the king’s table during the Joseon period (1392-1910).

Since the tidal flats were designated as a protected area, their natural life cycle is recovering, creating a large diversity of marine life alongside a unique, traditional way of life for the local residents. These tidal flats have a unique fishing culture and tradition that may meet UNESCO’s requirements for a mixed heritage site. The inhabitants of Yongsan Village of Muan County, once divided between reclamation and conservation, have now set rules to preserve the tidal flats together.

They set the day and hours to be spent on the mud and try not to encroach on it unnecessarily. Instead, they make a narrow route to cross the mudflats when picking shellfish or catching fish. The different-colored spots on the tidal flats reveal their wildlife diversity. Sand crabs, cockles and small octopuses are key resources that help residents make a living. They pick cockles and catch small octopuses by hand and use a wooden board to help them move around the mudflat.

About the stamps
The first stamp is part of the series Webtoons of Korea, designed by So-jeong Kim and issued on February 10, 2017. About the second stamp I wrote here.

Suncheon Bay - Wikipedia
Suncheon Bay Ecological Park - Wikipedia
Southwestern Coast Tidal Flats - UNESCO official website
Life-giving land: Tidal flats are haven for marine creatures - The Korea Herald

Sender: Sarah Lim (direct swap)
Sent from Yongin (Gyeonggi / South Korea), on 28.02.2017

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