The hunt for the habu – Izena Island

Izena Island is known for not having any venomous snakes on the Island. I always thought this was impossible since the surrounding islands all have venomous snakes. After five trips we finally found a Habu.

The Princess habu was found resting on a rock above a fresh water source.

The princess habu -

The Princess habu – Photo by David Orr

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Hime habu – Izena Island

Hime habu  - Izena Island

Hime habu – Izena Island

Hime habu  - Izena Island

Hime habu – Izena Island

The Hime habu was found October 9th 2016 on Izena Island.  It was located at the Izena castle site.

Izena castle

Izena castle -Iphone 6s

A sign at the port welcomes visitors to to the beautiful Island.  It states – no habu on the Island.

Izena Island welcome sign- No Habu

Izena Island welcome sign- No Habu

Be safe exploring the beautiful Islands of Okinawa.

Learn more about the venomous snakes of Okinawa in my previous blog post. http://okinawanaturephotography.com/venomous-snakes-of-okinawa-japan/

 

 

Sword-tailed newt – Endangered species

The Sword-tailed newt (Cynops ensicauda) is an endangered species found on the main islands of Okinawa an Amami. It is currently listed endangered on the IUCN red list of threatened species. This amphibian is decreasing in numbers due to deforestation and road kill.

  • Scientific name: Cynops ensicauda
  • Distribution: Okinawa and Anami Islands
  • Habitat: Forests, wetlands and fresh water streams
  • Diet: Amphibian eggs, tadpoles, snails, worms and insects
  • Average size: 100-180mm
Sword tailed newt with stripes

Sword tailed newt with stripes

They all have bright orange bellies, which serve as a warning sign to predators that they are poisonous. When threatened they produce a transparent skin toxin.

  •  Poisonous animals are toxic if you eat them or ingest their secretions.  Irritations may occur after handling these newts if you have open wounds. Avoid rubbing your eyes or placing your hands in your mouth.

Photographed on a white field studio board for the Meet your neighbours global biodiversity project (MYN).  All images are used for conservation awareness and educational purposes.

MYN technique - Sword tailed newt

MYN technique – Sword tailed newt

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Sword-tailed newt- Okinawa, Japan

The newt photographed in its natural habitat.

Sword-tailed newt in natural habitat

Sword-tailed newt in natural habitat


An average looking sword-tailed newt with a blood sucking leech

Sword-tailed newt with leech

Sword-tailed newt with leech

The Sword- tailed newt is often found crossing the road on rainy days in northern Okinawa. The government has designed specialized wildlife steps for animals that get trapped in road side drainage ditches. These steps allow the newts to crawl out safely.

Wildlife steps

Wildlife steps

Lets protect the wildlife of Okinawa!

 

 

 

 

Protecting Okinawa’s endangered beetles – Yanbaru forest

Poaching has been a big problem in northern Okinawa. The endemic animals of the Yanbaru forest are highly valued in the exotic pet trade market.  The Okinawan Ministry of the Environment and the wildlife protection center are working hard this year to prevent the poaching of these endangered species. The Okinawan’s are spreading the word in the news, local papers, flyers and even monitoring the forest roads at night.

Poaching flyer - Yanbaru

Poaching flyer -Yanbaru

August through September is when people search the forest for the rare Yanbaru long-armed scarab beetle (Cheirotonus jambar). If you see anyone taking this protected species please contact the authorities.  I have yet to photograph a live animal. It is one of the rarest beetles in the world.

Rarest beetle in Japan -Yanbaru long-armed scarab beetle

Rarest beetle in Japan -Yanbaru long armed scarab beetle, wildlife center

The giant Okinawan stag beetle (Dorcus titanus okinawanus) is also a high prized specimen in the pet trade.

Giant okinawan stag beetles

Giant okinawan stag beetles

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Giant okinawan stag beetle 

Beetle collectors use fruit filled net traps to lure in the beetles.

Yanbaru beetle trap

Yanbaru beetle trap    (Dorcus titanus okinawanus)

The beetles hooked shaped arms get caught in the netting.

Giant stag beetle ( Dorcus titanus okinawanus )

Giant stag beetle (Dorcus titanus okinawanus)

Over the years, I have found a few traps with dead beetles attached.

dead beetle

Female okinawan stag beetle

Beetle collecting is popular in Okinawa. Its important to be familiar with the specific beetles that are protected species. Let’s protect the wildlife of the Yanbaru forest for future generations.

 

 

 

The Art of Underwater Motion by Shawn Miller

As an underwater photographer there will be a time when you feel all your photographs look similar and you might lose interest for a while. Creating motion in still photographs will definitely give you a new challenge and purpose. The goal is to try to show some type of motion in a still photograph. The photographs emphasize the energy, power and or speed of the subject moving. Dramatic motion images will provide depth and variety to your portfolio.

Try panning or dragging the shutter underwater 

  • Move the camera in sync with the moving subject while the shutter stays open. A slow shutter speed will be necessary to achieve this.
  • Once you understand this technique try adding flash at the end of the exposure to freeze the motion of the subject (Rear curtain sync).
  • Get creative and add a spin the camera
Striped surgeonfish on the move (Rear curtain sync)

Striped surgeonfish on the move (Rear curtain sync)

Anemone fish with a spin ( RCS )

Anemone fish with a spin ( RCS )

Sea whip - feel the flow

Sea whip – feel the flow

Ocean art ( slow shutter with a spin )

Ocean art ( slow shutter with a spin )

Angelfish on the move ( Rear curtain sync )

Angelfish on the move ( Rear curtain sync )

Striped surgeonfish and coral reef (RCS)

Striped surgeonfish and coral reef (RCS)

Indian mackerel feeding

Indian mackerel feeding

Sunset wrasse reef racing ( RSC )

Sunset wrasse reef racing ( RSC )

Ctenochaetus striatus on the move

Ctenochaetus striatus on the move

Coral with a spin -Ie Island

Coral with a spin -Ie Island

Masked bannerfish on the move ( RCS )

Masked bannerfish on the move ( RCS )

Motion sickness (In camera triple exposure)

Motion sickness (In camera triple exposure)

Scuba-diving with a spin (RCS)

Scuba-diving with a spin (RCS)

Hopefully these images will inspire you to try something new underwater!

 

 

The Light & Motion Stella 2000 rocks part 1 – Okinawa, Japan

The Stella 2000 offers lightweight professional lighting for photographers and videographers. It delivers 2000 lumens of beautiful wide light on high power. It is waterproof to a depth of 100 meters and extremely durable.

Stella 2000 waterproof lighting

Stella 2000 waterproof lighting

My favorite features of the Stella 2000

  • Waterproof to 100 meters
  • Can be mounted on the camera hot-shoe, light stand,  loc-line arms or ball mounts.
  • Quick adjustable power output control
  • Fast charging and the ability to use the light when it’s charging

I tested the Stella 2000 in the humid jungle and on the shorelines of northern Okinawa. I used it as a spotting light, hiking light, camera modeling light and video light. I tested the light with the 120-beam angle with no modifiers, with custom made soft-boxes attached, studio umbrellas and with the combination of on-off camera flash.

I concentrated on the reptiles, amphibians and land crabs of northern Okinawa. Below are some of my favorite photographs.

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

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

Okinawa green tree frog -Stella 2000 diffused on hotshoe

Okinawa green tree frog -Stella 2000 diffused on the hot-shoe’

Holst's frog (endangered)  Stella 2000 bare with back lighting from headlights

Holst’s frog (endangered) Stella 2000 bare with back lighting from headlights

Namie's frog, threatened species

Namie’s frog, threatened species – Stella 2000 diffused through an umbrella

Ryukyu Tip nosed frog ( Endangered ) Stella 2000 diffused through an umbrella

Ryukyu Tip nosed frog ( Endangered ) Stella 2000 diffused through an umbrella

Ishikawa's frog (endangered) Stella 2000 diffused with fill flash

Ishikawa’s frog (endangered) Stella 2000 diffused with fill flash

Princess habu - Diffused through an umbrella

Princess habu – Stella 2000 diffused through an umbrella

Namie' frog -Backlighting with Gobe 700

Namie’s  frog – Stella 2000 modeling light – back-lighting with the Gobe 700 wide

Kuroiwa's ground gecko (Endangered) Stella 2000 with fill flash

Kuroiwa’s ground gecko (Endangered) Stella 2000 with fill flash

IHallowell's tree frog -Stella 2000 with fill flash

IHallowell’s tree frog -Stella 2000 with fill flash

 

Pryer's keelback feeding on a white jawed frog

Pryer’s keelback feeding on a white jawed frog – Stella 2000 diffused with fill flash

No need to worry about dropping the light in the salt water or placing it on the sand. The Stella 2000 is extremely durable.

Ghost crab - Fill flash and back-lighting Stella 200

Ghost crab – Fill flash and back-lighting Stella 2000

Crabs with trash homes -Stella 2000 and fill flash

Crabs with trash homes -Stella 2000 and fill flash

Making the journey (Geograpsus grayi) Stella 2000 with fill flash

Making the journey (Geograpsus grayi) Stella 2000 with fill flash

Hermit crab and plastic- Stella 2000 with fill flash

Hermit crab and plastic- Stella 2000 with fill flash

Ghost crab feeding- Stella 2000 with fill flash

Ghost crab feeding- Stella 2000 with fill flash

Crabs with trash homes -Stella 2000 and fill flash

Crabs with trash homes -Stella 2000 and fill flash

yukyu kajika frog Stella 2000 and fill flash

Geograpsus grayi feeding on the Ryukyu kajika frog – Stella 2000 and fill flash

Solid as a rock- Stella 2000

Solid as a rock- Stella 2000

 

I have been using Light & Motion lights for over four years now and they keep getting better! Stayed tuned for testing the Stella 2000 underwater !

Exploring Iejima (Ie Island) Okinawa, Japan

Every year I take a trip to IeJima.  Ie island is a thirty minute ferry ride from Motobu port. The small beautiful Island is famous for the Wajii lookout point, The Lilly festival and Mt Gusuku. The main crops are sugarcane, peanuts and tobacco.  The island does have venomous snakes (Habu), so be careful when exploring at night.

The beautiful Wajii lookout point is my favorite viewpoint on the north side of the Island.

Wajii lookout point

Wajii lookout point

Ie Island offers some of the best diving in the world – Beautiful blues!

Wajii- on top of the world

Wajii- on top of the world

Conditions can change quickly at this location, check the weather forecast and sea conditions before diving.

Entry point to Wajii

Entry point to Wajii -GoPo hero 4

Every year photograph the large Porites coral formation. This year I used the GoPro Hero4.

Massive Porites lutea coral

Massive Porites lutea coral -GoPr0 hero 4

The top view massive Porites lutea coral.

Massive Porites lutea coral

Massive Porites coral – GoPro hero 4

Some of the most beautiful Acropora corals can be found in shallow water.

Coral closup

Coral -macro photography

The lily festival takes place every year in late April. If you like flowers this is the place to go.

Lily festival Ie Island

Lily festival -Ie Island

One of the best views is on top of Mt Gusuku. I was lucky to find a large stag beetle (Dorcus titanus okinawanus) in the parking lot two years in a row.

Mt Gusuku -wide angle macro

The Kuroiwas ground gecko ( Goniurosaurus kuroiwae orientalis) Is and endangered species found on the Island. Pay attention to crossing wildlife !

Kuroiwa's ground gecko

Kuroiwa’s ground gecko

Have a great day!

Ryukyu tip-nosed frog (Odorrana narina) – Frogs of Okinawa

The Ryukyu tip-nosed frog ( Odorrana narina) is found in Northern Okinawa. This endemic frog is currently listed endangered on the IUCN red list. It’s biggest threat is habitat loss.

  • Scientific name: Odorrana narina
  • Common name: Ryukyu tip-nosed frog
  • Distribution: Yanbaru forest, Northern Okinawa
  • Habitat: Forest streams and mountain slopes
  • Diet: Insects, centipedes and small invertebrates
  • Average size: 50mm – 75mm

 

Ryukyu tip-nosed frog

Ryukyu tip-nosed frog – Stella 2000

The Ryukyu tip-nosed frog is a medium sized frog. It hides in holes and crevices in the daytime.

Ryukyu tip-nosed frog- WAM

Ryukyu tip-nosed frog –  Tokina 10-17mm

It feeds during the night on small insects and centipedes.

Ryukyu tip-nosed frog -wide angle macro

Ryukyu tip-nosed frog -wide angle macro, Stella 2000

Photographed on white for the Meet Your Neighbours global biodiversity project. All images are uses for conservation awareness and educational purposes.

Meet Your Neighbours Project -Okinawa

Meet Your Neighbours Project -Okinawa

It is sometimes found on roads searching for food after heavy rains.

Ryukyu Tip-nosed frog -Red list

Ryukyu Tip-nosed frog -Red list

Be careful and pay close attention to crossing wildlife.

Crossing wildlife- wide angle macro

Crossing wildlife- wide angle macro

Lets protect the wildlife of Okinawa!

 

 

The King of the Yanbaru forest – Holst’s frog

The Holst’s frog ( Babina holsti ) is a rare species found  in northern Okinawa. It is currently listed endangered on the IUCN red list. It is designated as a natural monument by the Okinawa Prefecture.  This large amphibian is decreasing in numbers due to habitat loss.

  • Scientific name: Babina holsti (Boulenger, 1892)
  • Distribution:  Northern Okinawa-Japan
  • Habitat:  Forest streams 
  • Diet:  Insects, worms, snails and small reptiles
  • Average Size:  100mm -125mm
King of the Jungle

King of the Jungle

The Holst’s frog is the largest frog found on Okinawa. It hides in holes, crevices and small caves in the day.

Searching for food

Searching for food

This is a size comparison photograph taken with the Iphone 6s. This is a good size  frog but they do get larger than this.

Comparison - Iphone6s

Comparison – Iphone6s

Photographed on white for the Meet Your Neighbours global biodiversity project. All images are used for conservation awareness and educational purposes.

MYN technique -Holst's frog

MYN technique -Holst’s frog

The juvenile’s have a dark brown  patch on the top section of the body. They bland in very well with their habitat.

Juvenile Holst's frog

Juvenile Holst’s frog

Juvenile holst's frog

Juvenile holst’s frog

They are sometimes found searching for food on the back roads of Northern Okinawa.

Juvenile Holst's frog - Yanbaru

Juvenile Holst’s frog – Yanbaru

Be careful and pay close attention to crossing wildlife! 

Crossing wildlife

Crossing wildlife

Lets protect the wildlife of Okinawa!

Venomous snakes of Okinawa-Japan

 

Okinawa has three species of pit vipers and one coral snake. These venomous snakes are commonly found in the jungle. They are sometimes found in neighborhoods and local parks at nighttime during the summer season. Majority of the snake bites that I am familiar with happened on neighborhood night walks or harvesting sugar cane.  I have seen pit vipers on public roads at night, on sidewalks, crawling on fences, on rock walls, in drainage ditches and inside vending machines.

Habu in vending machine

Drink machine – Photo by Leia Heider

The Okinawan Habu is the largest and most venomous pit viper found on Okinawa.

  • Scientific name: Trimeresurus flavoviridis
  • Common name: Okinawan or golden habu
  • Habitat: Rock walls, caves, tree lines, parks, farming fields and near fresh water
  • Diet: Mice, rats, shrews, bats and birds
  • Average size: 100-200cm
Okinawan Habu (Trimeresurus flavoviridis)

Okinawan Habu (Trimeresurus flavoviridis)

Fangs of the Okinawan Habu

Fangs of the Okinawan Habu

Okinawan Habu on a fence

Okinawan Habu on a fence -WAM perspective

Okinawan Habu- MYN field studio technique

Okinawan Habu- MYN field studio technique

 

The Taiwanese Habu was introduced to Okinawa in the 1970′s. They were imported for exhibitions and medical purposes. Somehow a few escaped and have populated the Island.  I have seen over a dozen on my night hikes near Ryukyu Mura in Onna village.

  • Scientific name: Trimeresurus mucrosquamatus
  • Common name: Taiwanese habu or Brown spotted pit viper
  • Habitat: Rock walls, trees and caves
  • Diet: Frogs, bats, mice and birds
  • Average size: 80-150cm
Taiwanes habu- Onna village

Taiwanes habu- Onna village.  Ready to strike!

Taiwanese habu-

Taiwanese habu- patiently waiting for a frog

Taiwanese habu- neighborhood at night

Taiwanese habu- neighborhood at night

 

The Princess habu is the most common venomous snake on Okinawa. It is the smallest of the pit vipers found here.

  • Scientific name: Ovophis okinavensis
  • Common name: Princess habu or Hime habu
  • Habitat: Rivers, ponds, creeks and runoff ditches.
  • Diet: Mainly frogs
  • Average size: 40-80cm
Princess habu -Yanbaru

Princess habu -Yanbaru forest

Large Princes habu- Yanbaru

Large Princes habu- Yanbaru

Princess habu -MYN technique

Princess habu -MYN technique

 

The Okinawan coral snake is extremely rare.  I have only seen two specimens

  • Scientific name: Sinomicrurus japonicus boettgeri
  • Common name: Okinawan coral snake
  • Habitat: Forest areas in northern Okinawa
  • Diet: blind snakes and small lizards
  • Average size: 30-60cm

photograph

 

 

Ways to avoid injury! 

  • Avoid catching or handling venomous snakes
  • Wear exposure protection, such as snake boots when exploring the forest at night.
  • Bring a flashlight on night walks in the neighborhood

Safety first or pay the worst!

 

 

 

The Ryukyu Robin, Northern Okinawa

The Ryukyu Robin (Larvivora koadori namiyei)  is a subspecies endemic to northern Okinawa.  It is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN red list of threatened species.  Its main threats are habitat loss and the introduction of invasive species.

  • Scientific name:  Larvivora koadori namiyei (Stejneger, 1887)
  • Distribution:  Northern Okinawa
  • Habitat:  Dense leaf littered forests 
  • Diet:  Earthworms, spiders, insects and fruit
  • Average Size:  140mm 

The Ryukyu robin in its natural habitat. The male has the distinctive black throat and face.

Male Ryukyu Robin

Male Ryukyu Robin, Yanbaru forest

The female Ryukyu robin perching on a guide rope at Hiji falls, Okinawa.

Female Ryukyu robin

Female Ryukyu robin

A male Ryukyu robin searching for insects on the ground.

Male Ryukyu robin

Male Ryukyu robin

Ryukyu robin

Ryukyu robin

These small birds are often seen early in the morning feeding on insects on the road. Watch your speed and pay particular attention between dusk and dawn.

Watch your speed!

Watch your speed!

A male Ryukyu robin that was killed by a speeding motor vehicle on Route 2 in northern Okinawa.

Roadkill

Roadkill – January 17th 2016

Let’s protect the beautiful wildlife of Okinawa, Japan.

Have a great day!