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!

 

Nature Therapy – Photo Exhibition by Shawn Miller

The Exhibition will be held at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST)  January 14th through February 29th.  The free photo exhibition is open from 9:00 to 17:00 every day. The exhibition will feature forty inspiring images of underwater animals, crabs with beach trash homes and the endangered species of Okinawa.  Photography By Shawn Miller. The wonderful people at OIST were kind enough to make this exhibition  take place and produce beautiful advertisement posters.

Nature Therapy poster 2016

Nature Therapy Poster 2016 – Shawn Miller

Some of my favorite images are featured below.  I photographed the gallery with a fish eye lens to give it a unique perspective.

Blueberry hermit crab

Blueberry hermit crab – Meet your neighbours project

Surgeon on the move

Surgeon fish on the move – Motion

Crabs with trash homes

Crabs with trash homes – Meet your neighbours project

Kuroiwas ground gecko -Endangered

Kuroiwas ground gecko -Endangered

a Blenny playing Peek a Boo

A Blenny playing Peek a Boo

Typhoon swirl -

Typhoon swirl – The art of motion

Ryukyu black breasted leaf turtle  -endangered

Ryukyu black breasted leaf turtle -endangered

Boxer crab

Boxer crab – Marine life of Okinawa

Okinawa rail

Okinawa rail- endemic to northern Okinawa

Video by Gary Hughes. FrontPageOkinawa – Hughes Media Technologies

http://

More information about Shawn Miller and Nature Therapy - http://www.japanupdate.com/2016/01/oist-hosts-nature-photo-exhibition/

Testing the Venus Laowa 60mm F2.8 macro lens underwater

Laowa 60mmn f2.8 macro lens

Dive Team Miller Underwater set-up with Canon 70d Laowa 60mmn f2.8 macro lens-  Ikelite housing with 8inch dome port, 1 ikelite 160 strobe , 1 ikelite 200 strobe, 1 sola 600 and 1 gobe 700 focus light.

The Venus Laowa 60mm macro lens is a technical lens with great optics. The specialized lens is manual focus and manual aperture selection.  I had to use my wide angle dome port since this was the only port I had the lens would fit into. I preset the lens to a 1:2 ratio and used an aperture setting of F8. I went with the aperture setting of F8 since it was an overcast day and I wanted to see my subject through the viewfinder in the low light.  I used two modeling lights to add artificial light, which allowed me to see through the viewfinder at a depth of 100 feet. The focusing distance was already preset on the surface, so all I had to do was to move the camera until I saw the subject was in focus and take the shot.  It was very difficult to use with subjects that were moving. This was my first dive using this lens underwater and have more testing to do. Here are some of my images using the Venus Laowa 60mm macro lens underwater at Maeda point, Okinawa-Japan.

Tomato anemonefish -Laowa 60mm macro F8

Tomato anemonefish -Laowa 60mm macro F8

Cushion starfish underside abstract

Cushion starfish underside abstract – Laowa 60mm macro F8

Clark's Anemonefish -

Clark’s Anemonefish – Laowa 60mm macro F8

Coral abstract - Laowa 60mm macro F8

Coral abstract – Laowa 60mm macro F8

Canthigaster coronata

Canthigaster coronata -Laowa 60mm macr0 F8

Bubble coral -Laowa 60mm macro F8

Bubble coral -Laowa 60mm macro F8

Coral abstract

Coral abstract – Laowa 60mm macro F8

Test dive two, I set the aperture to F11 with a focus distance between 1:1-1:2. It was  challenging working with all moving subjects. The dome port was to close for comfort for moving subjects such as fish.  Stay tuned for more images later this week!

Coral abstracts -Laowa 60mm macro F11

Coral abstracts -Laowa 60mm macro F11

Sea anemone -Laowa 60mm macro F11

Sea anemone -Laowa 60mm macro F11

Coral -Laowa 60mm macro F11

Coral -Laowa 60mm macro F11

Cushion star -Laowa 60mm macro F11

Cushion star -Laowa 60mm macro F11

Coral abstract -Laowa 60mm macro F11

Coral abstract -Laowa 60mm macro F11

Check out Thomas Shahan’s review of the Venus 60mm macro lens – The best of the best!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSpE_JE7Uyo

Check out Nicky Bay’s review review of the Venus 15mm Wide angle macro lens -The best of the best!   http://sgmacro.blogspot.jp/2015/06/review-of-venus-optics-laowa-15mm-f4-11.html

Check out Paul Harcourt Davies review on the Venus 15mm Wide angle macro lens- The best of the best!  http://learnmacro.com/closer-still-first-forays-with-the-venus-optics-laowa15mm-f4-wide-angle-11-macro-lens/

Have a great day!

Capturing fluorescence – Fluorescence enhancement photography by Shawn Miller

All photographers experience a time when their work becomes redundant and lose vision. The Light & Motion Sola Nightsea has opened up a new style of photography for me. Recently I have been blending the Light&Motion Nightsea blue light with ambient light and getting beautiful vibrant results.

Here are some of my favorite images using this fluorescence enhancement technique.

Green fire- coral polyps

Green fire- coral polyps

nightsea and sola 600 blended

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended,  -  fluorescence

Coral  art

Coral art

Coral Okinawa

Coral Okinawa

Tube anemone -

Tube anemone -

Patterns and texture-

Patterns and texture-

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence

blue light ambient light no ylfilter.jpg 4

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence

nighsea and sola 600 blended no yl filter 1

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- Luminescence a fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- Luminescence a fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence

Coral with Acoel flatworms

Coral with Acoel flatworms

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- Luminescence a fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Razor coral-

Razor coral-

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- Luminescence a fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence

Learn more about Light and Motion lights - http://www.lightandmotion.com/the-perfect-light

Have a great day-

Light and Motion macro field setup – Constant lighting by Shawn Miller

Light and Motion lights produce constant lighting with studio quality output. This light configuration is convenient while shooting macro photography at night. The camera, tray, arms and lights are combined into one lightweight unit. The light output can be easily adjusted with a touch of a switch. Having the lights on loc-line arms allow simple light angle adjustments.  

The custom Light and Motion macro field setup consists of

  • Sola Tray kit with extention tray and arms
  • Third custom loc-line arm mounted
  • GoBe 700 wide light
  • Sola 600 light
  • Sola 1200 light
  • Canon 70D with 60 mm macro lens and strap
Light and Motion macro field setup

Light and Motion macro field setup by Shawn M Miller.

I was fortunate to have beautiful weather both nights testing the constant lighting setup in northern Okinawa. Six of the animals below are endangered species listed as threatened on the IUCN red list. All of these night dwellers are decreasing in numbers due to deforestation.

Kuroiwa's ground gecko -Red list

Kuroiwa’s ground gecko -Red list

Namie's frog (Limnonectes namiyei)

Namie’s frog (Limnonectes namiyei) – Red list

Okinawa tree frog (Rhacphhorus viridis)

Okinawa tree frog (Rhacphhorus viridis)

Ryukyu Tip-nosed frog -Red list

Ryukyu Tip-nosed frog -Red list

Anderson's crocodile newt- Red list

Anderson’s crocodile newt- Red list

Kuroiwa's ground gecko -Red list

Kuroiwa’s ground gecko -Red list

Ryukyu brown frog -Red list

Ryukyu brown frog -Red list

Holst's frog ( Rana holsteri ) - Red list

Holst’s frog ( Rana holsteri ) – Red list

Ryukyu Kajika frog

Ryukyu Kajika frog

If you would like to learn more about these lights, check out the site!

http://www.lightandmotion.com/the-perfect-light

Have a great day!

 

Fluoro fingerprinting by Shawn Miller

On February 16th 2015, I went out reef walking at night during low tide. I brought my Light and Motion Nightsea blue light in search of marine life fluorescence. I stumbled upon an interesting find in the world of science. I call it Fluoro fingerprinting.

I flipped over a rock, a small sea cucumber fell off and began to fluoresce under blue light. I found another sea cucumber and photographed it using the blue light and yellow excitation filter but it did not fluoresce.

Holothuria (Platyperona) difficilis under blue light

Holothuria (Platyperona) difficilis under blue light

I gently touched it with my finger and it fluoresced bright green, leaving the print of my finger on the surface of the sea cucumber.

Fluoro fingerprinting. Okinawa-Japan

Fluoro fingerprinting. Okinawa-Japan

I checked my finger and noticed it fluoresced light green under blue light.

fluoro fingerprinting

Fluoro fingerprinting

I was excited about this find and posted it Flickr for some Identification help and explanation. Curt Fieldler emailed the photograph to Dr Alexander Kerr from the University Of Guam Marine lab and he was kind enough to assist.

 Dr Kerr stated that the species is known to have green pigment that I have seen in other Sea cucumbers. As far as the fingerprint, It seems to indicate that touching the surface of the Sea cucumber exposes the underlying carotenoid, perhaps by mobilizing the the melanin pigments. So I think you have made an interesting find. 

The next step was to photograph Holothuria (Platyperona) difficilis in a studio aquarium using the Meet your neighbours isolation technique.  I wanted to show the animal stretched out displaying  the tube feet and feathery feeding tentacles.  

Holothuria (Platyperona) difficilis  -MYN

Holothuria (Platyperona) difficilis -MYN

The last step was to photograph Holothuria (Platyperona) difficilis in its natural environment during the daytime.

Holothuria (Platyperona) difficilis

Holothuria (Platyperona) difficilis in natural environment

Learn more about capturing fluorescence http://www.nightsea.com/

Learn more about the lights used http://www.lightandmotion.com/

Learn more about Meet your Neighbours Project http://meetyourneighbours.net/

Have a great day!

 

Namie’s frog (limnonectes namiyei) – Okinawa

The Namie’s frog ( Limnonectes namiyei ) is an endangered species found only in northern Okinawa. It is currently listed threatened on the IUCN red list of endangered species. This amphibian is decreasing in numbers due to deforestation and the use of pesticides.

  • Scientific name: Limnonectes namiyei
  • Distribution:  Northern Okinawa-Japan
  • Habitat:  Forest streams 
  • Diet:  Insects 
  • Average Size:  70mm -115mm
Namies frog- Stella 2000

Namie’s frog- Photographed using the Stella 2000

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

limnonectes namiyei

Limnonectes namiyei – MYN Project

Massive legs allow them and capture prey with lightning speed.

Namie's frog ( limnonectes namiyei )

Namie’s frog ( limnonectes namiyei )

Webbed feet allow them to quickly escape predators in the water.

Namie's frog - Top view

Namie’s frog – Top view

Wide angle perspective – showing the environment it lives in.

Namie's frog - Wide angle macro

Namie’s frog – Wide angle macro

Be careful and pay close attention to crossing wildlife.

Road dweller- Namie's frog- Stella 2000

Road dweller- Namie’s frog with leeches

Lets Protect the wildlife of Okinawa!

Endangered – The Black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor) Okinawa, Japan

The Black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor) is a common winter visitor in southern Okinawa. The spoonbill is currently endangered and has an estimated population of less than 3000. It’s biggest treats are habitat loss, pollution and pesticides. The Black-faced spoonbill is currently listed critically endangered on the IUCN red list of threatened species.

  • Scientific name (Platalea minor)
  • Distribution: Okinawa, Korea, China, Taiwan and Japan
  • Habitat: Mud flats, mangroves and wetlands
  • Diet:  Fish
  • Average Size:  73.5 cm
The Black-faced spoonbill in flight

The Black-faced spoonbill in flight

The Black-faced spoonbill is a magnificent animal.

The beautiful Black-faced spoonbill

The beautiful Black-faced spoonbill

The Black-faced spoonbills work as a team when hunting for fish.

The Black-faced spoonbill-community hunting

The Black-faced spoonbill-community hunting

Out of all the birds at the mudflats, the spoonbills are the most consistent hunters. They rest most of the day, but when its time to fish they always catch one fairly quickly.

The Black-faced spoonbill-hunting

The Black-faced spoonbill-hunting

The Spoonbill landing – The art of conveying Motion !

Th Black-faced spoonbill -landing

Th Black-faced spoonbill -landing

Let’s Protect the beauty of Okinawa!

The Art of Wide-Angle Macro Photography by Shawn Miller

Wide-angle macro photography is popular with wildlife photographers. The technique allows the photographer to document the animal in its natural habitat and show the full scene it lives in. The photographs have great impact and deliver a bug eye perspective using a wide angle lens.

I generally use off camera flash with a custom soft box to make these photographs. Lately I have been testing a variety of on camera flashes to achieve a different perspective. One of the biggest challenges is lighting the subject evenly with soft diffused lighting.

The most popular lenses used for wide angle macro photography ( WAM )  

  • Tokina fisheye 10-17mm f3.5-4.5
  • Nikon fisheye 10.5mm f2.8
  • Sigma fisheye 15mm f2.8 E
  • Venus Laowa 15mm f4 –    (Manual focus only)

Here are some of my favorite wide-angle macro images photographed in Okinawa-Japan.

Fighting pose - Preying mantis, IPhone 6s

Fighting pose – Preying mantis, IPhone 6s

Geograpsus grayi with eggs

Geograpsus grayi with eggs

Ishikawa's Frog

Ishikawa’s Frog – The most beautiful frog in Japan

Horn-eyed ghost crab at sunset

Horn-eyed ghost crab at sunset -Nikon 10.5mm

img_8686

Herping in the yanbaru forest

Crabs with trash homes - Sesoko

Crabs with trash homes – Sesoko

I own this fence -Golden habu

I own this fence – Golden habu

Ghost crab - Nagahama beach

Ghost crab – Nagahama beach

Pryer's keelback feeding on a white jawed frog

Pryer’s keelback feeding on a white jawed frog

Baby loggerhead leaving the nest

Baby loggerhead leaving the nest

coconut rhinoceros beetle

Invasive – Coconut rhinoceros beetle

Blue rock-thrush with wings spread

Blue rock-thrush with wings spread

Princess habu -Yanbaru

Princess habu -Yanbaru

Kuroiwa's ground gecko crossing the road

Kuroiwa’s ground gecko crossing the road

Okinawan green tree frog

Okinawan green tree frog

Giant stag Beetle (Dorcus titanus)

Giant stag Beetle (Dorcus titanus) -Ie Island

Okinawa tip-nosed frog ( Rana narina )

Okinawa tip-nosed frog ( Rana narina )

Hermit crab at sunset

Hermit crab at sunset

Land crab crossing the road  at night

Land crab crossing the road at night

Hermit crabs with beach trash homes

Hermit crabs with beach trash homes

on the move- Black-breasted leaf turtle

On the move- Black-breasted leaf turtle

Asian long horned beetle

Asian long horned beetle

Crabs with trash homes-Yomitan

Crabs with trash homes-Yomitan

Road dweller- Namie's frog- Stella 2000

Road dweller- Namie’s frog- Stella 2000

Praying mantis

Praying mantis -with kenko 1.4 T

If you would like to learn more about this technique I recommend                                          Wide-Angle Macro: The Essential Guide by Clay Bolt and Paul Harcourt Davies

  http://www.e-junkie.com/shop/product/482943.php