Seashells of Okinawa by Shawn Miller

The beautiful seashells of the Ryukyu Islands.

It all started in 1989,  I went to a friend’s house and saw some beautiful seashells displayed on a counter-top.  My first thought was that they were fake or man-made. The intricate design of the Venus comb Murex shell caught my eye.  I was fascinated by the design and wanted to learn more about the animal that produced this beautiful shell.

Murex spicatus -Venus comb murex

Murex spicatus -Venus comb murex

I continued to collect,  photograph and read more about marine mollusks from the Ryukyu Islands. I eventually started contributing my collection samples to worldwide museums, scientists, specialists and images for various scientific publications. I currently do not collect shells anymore but enjoy photographing the marine snails in their natural habitat.

General rules to shell collecting

  • Be respectful of the environment.
  • Only collect dead specimens
  • Avoid over collecting sea-shells
  • If you turn over rocks, place them back in the original position

Below are some of my favorite shells found on Okinawa.

Semipallium dianae - scallop

Semipallium dianae – scallop

Neocancilla takiisaoi

Neocancilla takiisaoi

Cardium victor - Heart shell

Cardium victor – Heart shell

Lambis scorpius - scorpion conch

Lambis scorpius – scorpion conch

Morum ponderosum

Morum ponderosum

Annachlamys reevei

Annachlamys reevei – MYN technique

Chicoreus ryukyuensis

Chicoreus ryukyuensis -Okinawa, Japan

Cypraea (Blasicrura) luchuana (Kuroda,1960) Okinawa

Cypraea (Blasicrura) luchuana  -  Okinawa, Japan

Gloripallium speciosum

Gloripallium speciosum – sunray scallop

Avoid handling the venomous cone shells.  They are often found reef walking during low tide.

Venomous cones shells of Okinawa

Venomous cones shells of Okinawa

The trident trumpet is sought after for its beauty. This marine snail is one of the few natural predators of the crown of thorn starfish. This large snail also feeds on a variety of starfish as well.

Trident trumpet

Trident trumpet

If you enjoy eating shellfish, the Strawberry conch is the most popular side dish here on Okinawa. They are abundant in our waters and local fisherman discard the shells back into the ocean after consumption.

Strawberry conch shell

Strawberry conch shell

A huge pile of the discarded shells at a local fishing port in Yomitan.

Thousands of sea shells

Thousands of conch shells

Sinezona milleri (Geiger & Sasaki , 2009) – Named for the collector of the type specimens, Shawn Miller of Nagahama, Okinawa, for his continued support in malacological research by providing marine sediment samples of Okinawa.

Sinezona milleri (Geiger & Sasaki , 2009)

Sinezona milleri (Geiger & Sasaki , 2009)

Hemilienardia shawnmilleri.  A new species named after naturalist and underwater photographer Shawn Miller. Described by Shawn Wiedrick.

Hemilienardia shawnmilleri

Hemilienardia shawnmilleri

Have a great day!

Nature therapy- Chasing waterfalls on Iriomote Island

This was my fist time exploring Iriomote Island and I have to say it was an outstanding experience.  We were fortunate to have great weather with sunny days. The waterfalls were flowing with clear pristine water.  The twelve hour hike with an experienced guide and four good friends (Pete Leong, Mark Thorpe, Vish Lazcano and Nayuta Hirana) paid off.

The mission was to get some nature therapy and photograph three Impressive waterfalls. I spent most of my time just enjoying the moment and taking documentation photographs with my GoPro Hero 4 Silver.

This was our first view of Maryudo falls in the distance.


Mariyudo falls, Iriomote


Mariyudo falls, Iriomote Island


Mariyudo no-taki, Iriomote Island


Shooting Mariyudo falls, Iriomote Island

Mariyudo falls is a popular swimming area.  Watch out for leeches!


Shooting Mariyudo falls, Iriomote Island

On to the next waterfall, Kanpire waterfall is only a ten minute walk from Mariyudo.


Kanpire waterfall -Iriomote


Kanpire waterfall -Iriomote

The two hour hike begins! time to find the most amazing waterfall known as Mayagusuku falls.


Freshwater pools -Iriomote


River trekking – Iriomote Island


River trekking – almost there!

We finally made it to Mayagusuku falls! It was worth the hike!


Mayagusuku falls -Iriomote Island


Mayagusuku falls -Iriomote Island


Mayagusuku falls -Iriomote Island

The climb to the top was the most impressive part of my trip ! The falls reminded me of a scene cut from Jurassic park.


Mayagusuku falls -Iriomote Island


Mayagusuku falls -Iriomote Island

I really didn’t want to leave this waterfall but we had get back before nightfall.


The beauty of Iriomote Island

Twelve hours later…  we made it back safe!