Crabs With Beach Trash Homes – Okinawa, Japan

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Crabs with beach trash homes is a series I am currently working on. I photograph Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus) that have begun to use beach trash as their home. The crabs are photographed in their nature environment and also on white for the Meet Your Neighbours global biodiversity project. The images are used for environmental awareness and educational purposes.
Hermit crabs with beach trash homes

Hermit crabs with beach trash homes

 Blueberry hermit crabs are commonly found on local beaches in Okinawa. Most crabs are blue but occasionally have color variations of purple, pink, orange and or gray. They prefer to have a seashell as a protective home but when no shell is available they adapt.

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Blueberry hermit crab (Coenobita purpureus) with a seashell

Before plastic caps filled our shorelines, hermit crabs adapted using tree nuts if no shells were available.

Hermit crab and tree nut

Hermit crab and tree nut

It’s becoming more common to find crabs with beach trash homes.  I have friends combing local beaches in search of more crabs for my series. While these are cute images, our trash is becoming a serious problem to the ocean and the animals that call the shoreline home. I often find hermit crabs using a variety of plastic caps from twist top pet bottles, laundry detergent containers, small propane tanks, sports water bottles and beauty supplies.

Possible reason why Blueberry crabs adapt with beach trash
  • Limited number of available shells causing them to make due with the best homes they can find. This is a good example of adaptive behavior.

Hermit crabs are very social animals and often fight over shells. Having a protective lightweight shell that covers the abdomen (soft parts of the animal) is crucial for survival.

Hermit crabs fighting

Hermit crabs fighting over prime real estate

 

The battle -

The battle -

A close-up of the sensitive abdomen (photographed using the MYN technique)

Naked hermit crab

Naked hermit crab

Below are some of my favorite images photographed on a portable field studio board (MYN Technique). The crabs are safely placed on a white studio board, photographed and released back into the natural environment (MYN Technique).

 Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Blueberry hermit crab (Coenobita purpureus) with cap

 Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Blueberry hermit crab (Coenobita purpureus) in plastic tube

 Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Blueberry hermit crab (Coenobita purpureus) in plastic top cap

 Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Blueberry hermit crab (Coenobita purpureus) in plastic

 Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus) in plastic cap

 Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)
Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus) in plastic top cap
Blueberry hermit crab- Ryukyu Islands.

Blueberry hermit crab- Ryukyu Islands

Blueberry hermit crab

Blueberry hermit crab – Okuma, Okinawa

It’s important to photograph the hermit crabs in their natural habitat.  I prefer to photograph them using a wide angle lens to achieve a unique perspective.

Hermit crab- Plastic pollution

Hermit crab- Plastic pollution

Blueberry hermit crab, Hedo-Okinawa

Blueberry hermit crab,  Wide angle macro

Meet scoop- Quaker

Meet scoop- Quaker

Meet shady

Meet shady – Worldwide trash problem

Hermit crab in a glass bottle

Hermit crab in a glass bottle- Yomitan, Okinawa.

Meet cassette -CWBTH

Meet cassette -CWBTH

Airplane -Senaga Island ,Okinawa

Airplane -Senaga Island ,Okinawa

Blueberry hermit crab, Onna-Okinawa

Land hermit crab, Onna-Okinawa

Meet sparky- using a plastic cap from a cassette gas tank

Meet sparky- using a plastic cap from a cassette gas tank

Energy drink home- Trash homes

Energy drink home- Trash homes

 

The rock climber -Okinawa

The rock climber -Northern Okinawa

Sunset - Yomitan ,Okinawa

Sunset Time – Yomitan ,Okinawa

Beach pollution- CWBTH

Beach pollution- CWBTH

Tree climber-

Tree climber-

Plastic pollution - beach trash

Plastic pollution – beach trash

Crabs and plastic

Crabs and plastic – WAM

Got Meds -Beach trash

Got Meds -Beach trash

Get off the road jack -

Get off the road jack -

Crabs and plastic -Onna Village

Crabs and plastic -Onna Village

I also photograph the hermit crabs using a dedicated macro lens. I mainly use the Canon 60 mm or 100 mm macro lens to concentrate on the subject. These crabs are fairly small and  it’s important to have a lens that will focus close and deliver high quality sharpness.

Meet Edison- Gobe700

Meet Edison- Gobe700

Meet hand -toy end cap

Meet hand -toy end cap

Beach trash -hermit crabs

Beach trash -hermit crabs

 

erry hermit crab, Okuma-Okinawa

Blueberry hermit crab, Okuma-Okinawa

Laundry detergent cap - Northern Okinawa

Laundry detergent cap – Northern Okinawa

Cassette gas tank cap - bbq beach party

Cassette gas tank cap – bbq beach party

White cap on drift wood

White cap on drift wood

Meet scoop-

Meet scoop-

Blueberry hermit crab, Hedo-Okinawa

Blueberry hermit crab, Hedo-Okinawa

 

Meet Edison -Gobe700

Meet Edison -Gobe700

Blueberry hermit crab, Onna-Okinawa

Blueberry hermit crab, Onna-Okinawa

erry hermit crab, Hedo-Okinawa

Blueberry hermit crab, Hedo-Okinawa

School project  ” Crabs with beach trash homes ”  My family and I collected trash on a  local beach in Onna village. This is just a small portion of our beach trash findings.  The kids did a great job creating a project with impact.

Kirana's school project

Kirana’s school project

Kyle's school project

Kyle’s school project

Behind the scenes photograph  ” Crabs with beach trash homes ” I have documented over sixty crabs with beach trash homes. If you would like to see more images check out my Flickr account.

Shawn Miller - Crabs with beach trash homes.  photographed by David Orr

Shawn Miller – Crabs with beach trash homes.    Photographed by David Orr

 

June 10th 2010 was my first experience seeing a hermit crab with a trash home.  
 Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Land hermit crab  climbing a tree

My series ” Crabs with beach trash homes ” has been featured on Petapixel, Business Insider, National Geographic (Belgium), Atlas Obscura, Global citizen, Plethorist, Daily telegraph, Littlethings, 15minutenews, Roaring earth, Hyperdojo, News.com.au, Follownews, Neotorama, Boingboing, Insider, Additivist, Now100fm and varies Scientific websites.

Our trash is becoming a serous problem on our shorelines! Let’s keep our shorelines clean!

Have a great day!

 

Ryukyu Kajika frog – Amphibians of the Ryukyu Islands

The Ryukyu Kajika frog (  Buergeria japonica ) is found throughout the Ryukyu Islands. It is the most common frog found on Okinawa.

  • Scientific name: Buergeria japonica
  • Common name: Ryukyu Kajika frog
  • Distribution: Ryukyu Islands
  • Habitat: Forests, mountain slopes, drainage ditches and farm fields.
  • Diet: Small Insects
  • Average size: 25mm-40mm
  • Color: Olive green, brown and golden yellow

This small frog is a master of camouflage. I often find it on rocks, plants, trees, drainage ditches and even our trash.

Ryukyu Kajika frog on tatami mat

Ryukyu Kajika frog on tatami mat

Ryukyu Kajika frog

Ryukyu Kajika frog -macro

Ryukyu Kajika frog

Ryukyu Kajika frog – blending in

Ryukyu Kajika frog

Ryukyu Kajika frog

Ryukyu Kajika frog

Ryukyu Kajika frog- man hole cover

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Ryukyu Kajika frog- skin discoloration

Photographed on white for the Meet Your Neighbours Project

Ryukyu Kajika frog - MYN

Ryukyu Kajika frog – MYN

The males turn a golden yellow during mating season. The season stretches from April to September on Okinawa.

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Ryukyu Kajika frog – mating

Ryukyu Kajika frog

Ryukyu Kajika frog – drainage ditch

The eggs are laid in slow moving and still water sources. The eggs will develop into tadpoles and eventually transform into baby frogs.  I often find tadpoles thriving in farming water buckets.

Ryukyu Kajika frog

Ryukyu Kajika frog -tadpoles

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tadpole transformation- metamorphosis

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Juvenile Kajika frog

The summer months provide a great opportunity for natural predators.The frogs come together in a large numbers.

Crab feeding on frogs

Crab feeding on frogs

Ryukyu Kajika frog

Pryer’s keelback feeding

If you see frogs, there is a possibility that snakes are near by. The snakes patiently wait for frogs in drainage ditches and still water sources. The Kajika frog is the Hime habu’s favorite meal.

Hime habu - GoPro

Hime habu – GoPro

Please subscribe below! Have a great day!

 

Asian grass frog – Amphibians of the Ryukyu Islands

The Asian grass frog  ( Fejervarya limnocharis ) is found on Mainland Japan and most of the Ryukyu Islands. The warty frog is fairly common on Okinawa. It’s biggest threats are pesticide exposure and habitat loss.

  • Scientific name: Fejervarya limnocharis
  • Common name: Asian grass frog, marsh frog and common pond frog
  • Distribution: Ryukyu Islands and Mainland Japan
  • Habitat: Rice fields, ditches, marshes, parks and farm fields.
  • Diet: Insects
  • Average size: 45mm-75mm
  • Color: light brown with a white belly
Asian grass frog - 60mm macro

Asian grass frog – Canon 70d * 60mm macro

Wide angle macro - Canon 70d *Tokina fisheye

Wide angle macro – Canon 70d *Tokina fisheye

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Asian grass frog- Macro

Asian marsh frog - drainage ditch

Asian marsh frog – drainage ditch

Asian grass frog feeding

Asian grass frog feeding

Asian grass frog -MYN

Asian grass frog -MYN

All images were taken with the Canon 70d  EFS 10-18mm, Canon 60mm or Tokina fish-eye lens, Scroll down to subscribe to my blog posts -

Okinawa green tree frog – Ryukyu Islands

The Okinawa green tree frog ( Rhacophorus viridis viridis ) is found on Okinawa, Iheya and Kume Island.

  • Scientific name: Rhacophorus viridis viridis
  • Common name: Okinawa Green tree frog
  • Distribution: Okinawa, Kume, and Iheya.
  • Habitat: Forests, mountain slopes and farm fields near water.
  • Diet: Insects
  • Average size: 45mm-75mm
  • Color: Olive green, Bright green and dark brown
Okinawa Green tree frog

Okinawa Green tree frog

This beautiful frog is a master of camouflage.  I often find it resting on tree branches, blending in with the surrounding green leaves.

Natural habitat

Natural habitat

Green tree frog

Green tree frog

Breading season stretches from February to April on Okinawa.

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Green tree frog mating

On Kume Island the tree frogs transform to a golden brown when mating.

Kume Island tree frog

Kume Island tree frog

They construct a foam nest on a tree branch above a still water source. Eventually the foam liquefies when the eggs are ready to hatch.

Frog foam nest

Frog foam nest

Not all frogs survive to make the nest. The Akamata is the most common snake on the Okinawan Islands.  It feeds on venomous habu snakes, baby sea turtles, lizards and frogs.

Akamata feeding

Akamata feeding

 

Photographed on white for the Meet your Neighbours global biodiversity project.

MYN Technique

MYN Technique

MYN Technique

MYN Technique

Green tree frog

Green tree frog

I often find this frog searching for insects on the road.

Roadside green tree frog

Roadside green tree frog

Let’s protect the wildlife of Okinawa.

 

 

Seagulls on Okinawa -

Every winter, I see a few Black-tailed gulls (Larus crassirostris) on our shorelines. They generally do not stay for longer than two weeks. In January 2016,  I photographed eight Black-tailed gulls on Nagahama beach. Four gulls had oil residue stuck on their feathers. The birds were constantly bathing in the sea water and preening. The Black-tailed gulls are abundant on the mainland, but on Okinawa they are a rare sight.

Juvenile Black-tailed gull

Possible reasons why there are no seagulls living on Okinawa.  

  • Warm water temperatures – too warm ( 68F- 88F)
  • Not enough food (fish, worms, mollusks)
  • Competition with other birds ( osprey, terns and crows )
  • Small land mass

A mature Black-tailed gull bathing and preening. It was working hard trying to get the oil residue off its feathers.

Black-tailed gull bathing

Black-tailed gull drying off

Shaking off

Shaking off

Black-tailed gull preening

Black-tailed gull preening

Black-tailed gull

Black-tailed gull

Black-tailed gull

Mature gulls feeding on fish scraps

Black-tailed gull feeding

Black-tailed gull feeding

Have a great day !    

Light-painting with the nightsea

Light painting is the artistic technique of moving a hand held-light source while taking a long exposure. The purpose is to illuminate the subject with constant lighting to create a powerful image.  It takes a steady hand, patience, trial and error and imagination. Using a specialized blue light (nightsea) will allow you to capture fluorescence. The images will be enhanced with beautiful bright vibrant colors.

Most plants and animals fluoresce under blue light. Below are some of my favorite long-exposures photographed using the Nightsea and a Canon 70d.  I also included some comparison photos under white light.

Beautiful cherry blossoms under blue light, Okinawa-Japan

Cherry blossum under blue light

Cherry blossom under blue light

Cherry blossum under blue light

Cherry blossom under blue light

Cherry blossum under white light (MYN)

Cherry blossom under white light (MYN)

 

Sunflowers show some fluorescence under blue light, Okinawa-Japan

Sundflower under blue light

Sundflower under blue light

Sunflower under white light -zoom panning

Sunflower under white light -zoom panning

 

The animal must not move in order to get a sharp image during a long-exposure.

Rhinoceros coconut  beetle under blue light

Rhinoceros coconut beetle under blue light

Rhinoceros coconut  beetle under white light

Rhinoceros coconut beetle under white light

The Rosy gypsy moth (Lymantria mathura) Under blue light

The Rosy gypsy moth (Lymantria mathura) Under blue light

The Rosy gypsy moth (Lymantria mathura) Under white light -

The Rosy gypsy moth (Lymantria mathura) Under white light -

 

More flowers painted with the Nightsea

Flowers under blue light

Flowers under blue light

IMG_6386

Flowers under blue light

IMG_6392

Cactus under blue light

Mochi leaf flower under blue light

Mochi leaf flower under blue light

Flower under blue light

Flower under blue light

Light-painting with the Nightsea and Sola 600 red light

Light-painting Okinawa

Light-painting Okinawa

Blue light comparison (450nm) with UV (385)

Blue 450 vrs uv385

Blue comparison – 450nm vrs uv 385nm

 

Equipment used

  • Light&Motion Nightsea or Gobe blue light
  • Modeling light Gobe 700 wide (white light) to lock in focus
  • Camera with Manual capabilities and macro lens (Canon 70d *60macro)
  • Manfrotto Tripod and remote
  • Barrier filter (block the reflected blue light )

 

Sola NightSea underwater blue light

Sola NightSea underwater blue light

My underwater setup for photographing fluorescence.

fluorescence-004

Learn more-

http://www.lightandmotion.com/sola-nightsea

Ryukyu Long tailed Giant Rat – Ryukyu Islands

The Ryukyu Long-Tailed Giant Rat (Diplothrix legata) is an endangered species found on Amami, Tokuno and Okinawa Island. This rare species is currently listed as endangered on the IUCN red list of threatened species.  It’s biggest threats are deforestation, feral cats, dogs and the introduced mongoose. I often see it crossing the road during the night in the Yanbaru forest. Please pay attention to crossing wildlife and drive at a safe speed.

Ryukyu Long-tailed giant rat

Ryukyu Long-tailed giant rat

Natural habitat -Yanbaru

Yanbaru  - balancing on a power line

searching for food

Searching for food – Natural habitat

The Yanbaru forest is designated as a wildlife protection area by the Okinawan prefecture, It extends from Nago to Kunigami village.

Yanbaru forest

Yanbaru forest

Lets protect the wildlife of Okinawa!

Nudibranchs – Colorful sea slugs of Okinawa

Nudibranchs are shell-less gastropods. They are some the most bizarre looking underwater animals found in our oceans. They can be challenging to to find due to their small size and confusing patterns. Nudibranchs are slow moving, delicate and lack a protective shell. Some are extremely distasteful and bright colors warn predators that they are toxic. Some even have the ability to ingest stinging cells and use them as a form of protection.

The best way to find sea slugs:    Move slow!  Search around sponges, hydroids, sea squirts, anemones, soft coral, rocks and reef ledges.

Train the eye:  They can be challenging to find, I recommend tagging along with experienced divers that already have an eye for finding them.

Below are some of my favorite images of sea slugs. Photography by Shawn M Miller.

Chromodoris willani

Chromodoris willani

Phestilla melanobranchis

Phestilla melanobranchis

Phyllidia varicosa

Phyllidia varicosa

Roboasta gracillis

Roboasta gracillis

Chromodoris aureopurpurea

Chromodoris aureopurpurea

 

Aldisa albatrossae

Aldisa albatrossae

Tritonospsilla alba

Tritonospsilla alba

Phyllidia elegans

Phyllidia elegans

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Gymnodoris nigrocolor – parasite

Chromodoris kuniei

Chromodoris kuniei

Chromodoris annae

Chromodoris annae

Chromodoris sp

Chromodoris sp -space odyssey

Janolus sp

Janolus sp

Noumea angstolutea

Noumea angstolutea

Chromodoris coi

Chromodoris coi

Phyllidia coelestis

Phyllidia coelestis

Flabellina rubrolineata

Flabellina rubrolineata

Glossodoris cruenta

Glossodoris cruenta

Chromodoris annae -Ryukyu flare

Chromodoris annae -Ryukyu flare

Learn more about the beautiful sea slugs of Okinawa.  Check out Dr. Bolland’s Website!

http://rfbolland.com/okislugs/

Thousands of Blue button jellyfish washed ashore Okinawa

Thousands of Blue button jellyfish ( Porpita porpita ) washed ashore on a local beach today.  These beautiful animals have stinging cells called nematocysts.  They can cause skin irritation but generally are not a threat.

Blue button  jellyfish

Blue button jellyfish

Blue button  jellyfish

Blue button jellyfish 

Washed ashore

Washed ashore

Button Jellyfish

Button Jellyfish -Gobe 700

Button Jellyfish

Button Jellyfish – Gobe 700

I collected a few specimens to photograph in the studio. I was curious to see if this animal would fluoresce under blue light. I used my underwater setup as my lighting studio.  I took a few photos using the Light & Motion Nightsea Blue light.

Studio setup

DTM -Studio setup

The round disc fluoresced bright orange under blue light.

fluorescence

fluorescence

Have a great day!

 

 

Meet Your Neighbours project – Okinawa, Japan

Founded in 2009, Meet Your Neighbours is a worldwide photographic initiative created by Niall Benvie and Clay Bolt. The project is dedicated to reconnecting people with the wildlife on their own doorsteps and enriching their lives in the process. These creatures and plants are vital to people: they represent the first, and for some, the only contact with wild nature we have. Yet too often they are overlooked, undervalued.

There are seventy-five worldwide contributors to this powerful project. I am currently  the Japan contributor to this project. All images are used for conservation awareness and educational purposes.  Below are some of my favorite images.

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Okinawan green tree frog

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Percnon planissimum – crab

Cherry blossom  -Mt Yaedake

Cherry blossom -Mt Yaedake

Crabs with beach trash homes

Crabs with beach trash homes

Kuroiwa's Ground Gecko -MYN

Kuroiwa’s Ground Gecko -MYN

Porcelain crab ( Petrolisthes hastatus ) -Okinawa

Porcelain crab ( Petrolisthes hastatus ) -Okinawa

Ryukyu odd-tooth snake ( Dinodon semicarinatum )

Ryukyu odd-tooth snake ( Dinodon semicarinatum )

Scopimera ryukyuensis - Ryukyu Islands

Scopimera ryukyuensis – Ryukyu Islands

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Fern – Ryukyu Islands

 

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Gray faced buzzard eagle

Gray faced buzzard eagle

Princess habu -MYN technique

Princess habu -MYN technique

Charybdis japonica -Yagaji Island

Charybdis japonica -Yagaji Island

American bullfrog - Izena Island

American bullfrog – Izena Island

Chinese cowrie

Chinese cowrie

Okinawan Habu- MYN field studio technique

Okinawan Habu- MYN field studio technique

Okinawan mud lobster

Okinawan mud lobster

Sesarmops intermedius

Sesarmops intermedius

Air breathing marine slug

Air breathing marine slug

Unidentified earthworm -  MYN and under Blue light Kume Island

Unidentified earthworm – MYN and under Blue light Kume Island

Geograpsus grayi

Geograpsus grayi

Anderson's crocodile newt

Anderson’s crocodile newt

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Have a great day !

Invasive species of Okinawa

Invasive species are introduced animals, plants and fungus that cause damage to the natural environment. Non-native species have a tendency of dominating the habitat and eventually wiping out native wildlife.  They have been deliberately or accidentally introduced and generally do more harm than good.

The mongoose was introduced to Okinawa in 1910 in attempt to control the population of venomous snakes. The problem is the habu snake is nocturnal and the mongoose is diurnal, so they rarely meet.

Mongoose ( Hepestes javanicus )

Mongoose ( Hepestes javanicus ) -Nagahama, Okinawa

The pheasant was introduced in the 1900′s as a food source. The bird is also know to feed on small snakes and insects that feed on local crops.

Common Pheasant

Common Pheasant – Yomitan, Okinawa

The Red eared turtle was Introduced in the the 1960′s.  Pet owners generally release these turtles when they get too big.

Red-eared slider

Red-eared slider -Nagahama, Okinawa

The White jawed frog was introduced in the the 1960′s. It was brought in by the pet trade or hitchhiking on shipping supplies.

White lipped tree frog

White lipped tree frog – Ie Island

The Taiwanese habu was introduced in the 1970s for zoo exibitions and medicine.  They are fairly common in Onna village.

Taiwanes habu- Onna village

Taiwanes habu- Onna village

The Apple snail was introduced as a food source in the 1980s.  They are commonly found in rice fields. It’s not recommended to handle or eat these snails raw. They sometimes carry parasites that cause disease.

Apple snail

Apple snail -Kunigami, Okinawa

Feral cats are master hunters. They are responsible for killing native species such as birds, lizards and mice.  Some countries have implemented programs to reduce the killing of wildlife. If you own a cat that spends it time outdoors, it is recommended to place a brightly colored collar with a bell on it.  This warns the native wildlife and gives them a chance to escape.

Feral cats

Feral cats – Kin, Okinawa

The american bullfrog was introduced in 1918 as a food source. Bullfrogs eat anything they can fit into their mouth. They are larger and overpower the native frogs of the Ryukyu Islands.

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American bullfrog – Izena Island

The Giant African snail was Introduced as a food source in the 1930′s . It’s not recommended to handle or eat these snails raw. They sometimes  carry parasites that cause disease.

Giant African snail

Giant African snail -Kin, Okinawa

The Coconut rhinoceros was introduced with the importation of palm trees.

Coconut rhinoceros beetle

Coconut rhinoceros beetle

The Snapping turtle was introduced by pet owners. They buy them when they are very small and fail to realize they can live for over forty years.

Snapping turtle

Snapping turtle – introduced to okinawa

The Taiwanese beauty snake was introduced in the 1970s for zoo exhibitions.

Taiwanese beauty snake

Taiwanese beauty snake – Yomitan, Okinawa

The Brown rat was possibly introduced by lumber transportation ships.

Brown rat (Rattus norvegicus)

Brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) -Yomitan, Okinawa

Talapia were brought to the Ryukyu islands in the 1960s as a food source. They eat the eggs of amphibians and compete with native fish.

Tiliapia introduced food source

Tiliapia introduced food source – Itoman, Okinawa

Let’s protect the wildlife of Okinawa!