[Okinawa Crying Out]
Crisis Approaches Oura Bay's Gorgeous Sea
Oura Wan Bay Supports the Lives of 5,300 Species
Over many years, Oura Wan Bay has developed into a basin where the lives of over 5,300 species have persevered to breed and flourish. 262 endangered species live there. These lives, which may someday no longer be on this earth, exist in harmony with this sea.
Mangroves form clusters at estuaries leading to Oura Wan Bay from subtropical mountains. Fish, crabs and other crustaceans bustle about the roots of these trees. Seaweed beds of turtle grass and paddle weed, which stretch out across the shallows, also provide a place for fish to lay their eggs. This is the feeding ground of dugong, Japan's largest mammal and one which is in fear of extinction.
The bay depths where fine sand and silt have built up are home to rare and precious creatures, including crustaceans such as Benitsuke crabs and Zeuxis scalaris shellfish. This colorful space interwoven with rocks and coral of many shapes creates a habitat for a variety of creatures. As they all connect into one life force to preserve the delicate balance, the bay is a nest for a diverse ecosystem not found in any other waters.
Since the governments of Japan and the United States decided to fill in Oura Wan Bay to build V-shaped runways, 11 new species have been discovered in Oura Wan Bay and published in academic papers. There are even some species unique to Japan, which have only been verified in these waters. Oura Wan Bay holds the potential for many more such discoveries of currently unknown life.
Joint Request from 19 Academic Natural History Research Societies (Over 4,000 Researchers), Summary, November 2014
The whole area of Oura Wan Bay has survived without its coral reefs and contiguous diverse natural environment sustaining significant damage. Even in Japan which is recognized as a hotspot of biodiversity throughout the world, Oura Wan Bay is an area possessing a very high level of biological diversity.
The biodiversity of the bay is likely much greater than currently known. The fact that numerous living organisms, which have never been found in coral reefs of the Kerama or Yaeyama islands, live in Oura Wan Bay offers an excellent illustration of how irreplaceable this area is.
Oura Wan Bay's coral reef ecosystem is something the world should be proud of, and its preservation is Japan's duty as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.
If the land reclamation work moves forward as planned, the wealth of this irreplaceable coral reef ecosystem will be lost forever without many of us ever being aware of its value.