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Friday, April 02, 2010

Coral Reefs off Katsuren Peninsula are NOT dead. 勝連沖のサンゴ礁は死んでいない。

(Photos from Ryukyu Shimpo Webpage)
It has been widely reported that the coral reefs in the ocean off White Beach, the candidate area for building a replacement facility for Futenma Air Station, are already dead and there won't be much environmental concern for reclaiming to build a large artificial island to accommodate a new base. (See our previous post for some details of this plan.)

Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Times, the two Okinawan newspapers didn't take those reports at face value. They sent their diver reporters to investigate the area on April 1(not a joke), and discovered that the coral reefs are as alive as they are in the photos and the video they took.

Please go to the Okinawa Times website for this must-see video.

Towards the end of the video, you see the mozuku farms. The area has the biggest number of mozuku farms in Japan. Mozuku is a kind of seaweed you find in many Okinawan dishes and it is popular across the nation as a mineral-rich healthy ingredient in sunomono salad, soup and tempura. Understandably there is a strong opposition from the fishing industry in that area against the new base plan.

The two islands at the front side of the first photo are the Ukibaru Island (right) and Minami Ukibaru Island (left), and they are marked with red dots with a cross on the diagram below, and those dots were the areas where the divers took these photographs between 10 AM and 3 PM of April 1. The rectangular area shown in the second diagram is the area to be reclaimed for that artificial island, with the connecting bridges to the Hamahiga Island and Heanza Island, which you see beyond the Ukibaru and Minami Ukibaru Islands. The picture of the coral was taken between those two islands.

The Ryukyu Shimpo divers saw multiple coral reefs at 10 to 15 meter under the surface. The biggest they saw was 10 meters in diameter. They also saw small fish like long-spine porcupine fish and anemone fish. Nakai Tatsuro, an expert of coral reefs at Kokushikan University examined the photos and identified different kinds of corals, including "hamasango ハマサンゴ," "komon sango枝状コモンサンゴ," and "isobana イソバナ." (I have no idea for the English names of these corals. Please help if you know.) Nakai said, "Corals have died in certain areas but they may revive because this area is a good environment for them. Coral reefs also act as egg-laying sites for many species in the ocean. Their loss will negatively affect the aquatic resources in this area."

Also see the photos in these articles.
"Treasure Ocean" Alive (Ryukyu Shimpo)

Coral reefs off Katuren Peninsula are NOT dead.


琉球新報 4月2日記事

豊じょうの海 サンゴ輝く 普天間移設候補地2010年4月2日



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