Isolated but vital work in an island environment

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Li Changbo, 60, has been working on an island monitoring the maritime environment, for 33 years.

One of 72 offshore marine environmental monitoring centers in China, the Xiaochangshan center is 25 kilometers off shore, in Liaoning province's Dalian city, and has eight staff, including Li.

Li said the equipment is much better than that which he used decades ago, but the center still needs people to maintain and record the data.

Shan Xiaoxuan, 28, has been working at Xiaochangshan for two years. She said there are lots of snakes and stray dogs on the island and she gets nervous every time she goes out to collect data from monitors in the wild.

Shan doesn't have much social life and online shopping has been her only hobby. But receiving packages is a problem as all supplies are transported by ferry with only a few express companies offering a service by boat.

With a limited fresh water supply, the staff has to use desalinated water to wash. Sometimes they can still taste the salt.

Life on the island isn't easy but the work is important, said Zhao Yueru, 25. A major in oceanic science, Zhao said based on data they can see changes in ocean conditions and warn people of pollution or approaching disasters.

Founded in 1959, Xiaochangshan is one of seven centers in Dalian. It monitors changes in ocean water and marine creatures. It is also a weather broadcast center. In 2012, after the tsunami hit Japan's Fukushima, a tsunami monitoring and warning facility was built in the center.

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