Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle, Yanbaru forest

The Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica) is an endangered species found in Northern Okinawa. This turtle is decreasing in numbers due to poaching, deforestation and road kill. The turtle is high valued in the pet trade market and needs to protected. It has been designated as a National Natural Monument of Japan and is currently on the IUCN red species list as endangered.

  • Scientific name:  Geoemyda japonica (Fan, 1931)
  • Distribution:  Okinawajima
  • Habitat:  Leaf littered wetland forests 
  • Diet:  Worms, snails, insects, crustaceans and fruit
  • Average Size:  140mm- 160mm

The Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle in its natural habitat.

Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica)

Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica)

Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica)

Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica)

Black breasted leaf turtle - up close

Black breasted leaf turtle – up close

You can see why they named it the Black-breasted leaf turtle. We helped this turtle get off of the road and placed it safely back into the forest.

Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica)

Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica)

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

Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica)

Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle – MYN Project

I usually find the Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle crossing the road at night or early in the morning.

Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica)

Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica)

All the roads in northern Okinawa have specialized wildlife steps for the the animals that get trapped in the drainage ditch. These steps allow the turtles and other animals to crawl out safely using the steps.

Wildlife steps

Wildlife steps

Watch your speed and pay close attention to crossing wildlife.

Wildlife crossing warning signs

Wildlife crossing warning signs

watch out for crossing turtles -Kunigami village

watch out for crossing turtles -Kunigami village

IMG_3538

The truth is I have seen more of these turtles dead than alive. Watch your speed!

Road kill

Road kill

Lets protect the wildlife of Okinawa.

Have a great day!

 

Crabs With Beach Trash Homes – Okinawa, Japan

Featured

  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

Hermit crabs are scavengers and take advantage of any food washed ashore. They mainly feed on dead fish, barnacles, other crabs, algae, insects, plants, fruit and various seeds. The screw pine (Pandanus odifer) is one of their favorite foods. I imagine long ago these vital plants lined our shorelines in abundance. Numbers are decreasing due to deforestation.

Pandus odifer

Pandanus odifer

Eventually the fruit drops to the ground and the sweet smell attracts the hermit crabs

Hermit crab feeding

Hermit crab feeding

The hermit crabs feed on the the fresh keys and help with seed dispersal. They both benefit in this relationship.  The Pandanus tree provides shelter, shade, food for the hermit crabs.

Hermit crab and Pandanus

Hermit crab and Pandanus

Eventually the keys dry, turn brown and litter the local beaches. The dispersed keys provide a perfect environment for hermit crabs to blend in with.

Where the treeline meet the beach

Where the treeline meet the beach

Hermit crabs prefer to be in a shell that protects the entire body from predators. Sometimes they have to temporarily adapt with a much smaller shell.  The retracted hermit crab tightens up to protect itself.  Ball up, play dead and blend into the environment, minimizing the risk of being preyed upon.

Could this be a form of masquerading or just coincidence ?  It resembles (mimics) the shape of the screw pine seed to possibly avoid detection from potential predators.

Hermit crab and screw pine seed

Hermit crab and screw pine seed

Hermit crabs have the ability to ball up tight to protect their eyes. (Transformers)

Hermit crab retracted

Hermit crab retracted

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.

Meet zori -Wide angle macro

Meet zori -Wide angle macro

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 World Wildlife Fund, 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!

 

Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens – Birds Of Okinawa

The Canon Ef 400mm f/5.6 USM lens is a light weight high performance prime lens. The auto focus system is impressively fast without hesitation. It performs best when photographing birds in flight and animals on the move. This is a very sharp high quality lens and would recommend purchasing it if you are on a limited budget.

The Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) is one of my favorite birds to photograph with the the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens.

Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

The Black Faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor) is a common visitor in Southern Okinawa.
The Spoonbill is critically endangered and has an estimated population of less than 3000.

The Black Faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor).

The Black Faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor).

The Pryer’s woodpecker (Sapheopipo Noguchii) is the prefecture bird of Okinawa and designated as a natural treasure of Japan. It is a rare species only found in the northern part of Okinawa.

Pryer's woodpecker  (Sapheopipo Noguchii)  Yanbaru forest

Pryer’s woodpecker (Sapheopipo Noguchii) Yanbaru forest

 The Japanese white eye (Zosterops japonicus) is popular to photograph in January. The green and yellow feathers compliment the pink cherry tree blossoms.  

Mejiro - Japanese white eye, Okinawa

Mejiro – Japanese white eye

The Okinawa rail (Gallirallus okinawae) is a flightless bird only found in the northern part of Okinawa. It is a protected species and declared a living natural monument. It is currently listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as an endangered species.  In 2012 populations of this endemic bird were estimated at 1500 by the Environment Ministry.

Okinawa Rail

Okinawa Rail ( Gallirallus okinawae)

The Glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) is a rare visitor in Okinawa. Nature Photographers travel from Mainland Japan to photograph this beautiful bird.

Glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)

Glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)

The male Japanese sparrowhawk ( Accipiter gularis ) has stunning bright red eyes. This bird can pluck the feathers off a sparrow within minutes.

Male Japanese sparrowhawk   ( Accipiter gularis )

Male Japanese sparrowhawk ( Accipiter gularis )

The Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) dive bombing a fish. This bird is a spectacular hunter.

Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) dive bombing a fish

Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) dive bombing a fish

Check out more Images of Birds of Okinawa-

All Images were photographed using the Canon 70d with the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens.

Canon 70d with 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens

Canon 70d with 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens

Have a great day!

 

Marine Life Washed Ashore – Typhoon Vongfong

Super Typhoon Vongfong was considered to be to be the strongest storm of the year. We were very lucky the strength of the storm died down before it landed on the Island of Okinawa. The typhoon brought heavy winds and rough sea conditions. A fair amount of marine life could not cope with these harsh conditions.

Puffer fish and trash

A Common Puffer fish ( Diodon holocanthus) with beach trash.

Blue starfish ,Onna beach-Okinawa

Blue starfish (Linckia laevigata) washed ashore

fish washed up with styrofoam

Carinalfish washed ashore with styrofoam in its mouth

Sea snake , Okinawa-Japan

Venomous Sea snake  (Emydocephalus ijimae)

Starfish washed up

Horned sea star ( Protoreaster nodusus ) washed ashore

sea hare

Large sea slug (Dolabella auricularia ) with internal shell

Sea cucumber

Sea cucumber ( Holothuria scabra ) washed ashore

Soft coral -Nago ,Bay

Soft coral  ( Lobophytum sp ) washed ashore

All images were taken on the western portion of the Island using the Canon 70d.

Have a great day!

 

Using the Light & Motion Sola red light feature to document the marine life of Okinawa

I have been using the Light & Motion Sola series underwater lights for over two years now. They are the most reliable lights I have ever used underwater. The Sola photo series 800 and 1200 offer a red light feature. This feature enables the user to photograph the marine life without disturbing them. Most marine animals do not see or react to the red light.

I decided to put the Sola red light to the test on some marine subjects. I first setup a small studio saltwater aquarium to place the specimens in.

Aquarium setup - Documenting the Marine Life of Okinawa

Aquarium setup – Meet Your Neighbours Project

I wanted to photograph some marine gastropods with their shell and body showing. I first tried using white light, but they immediately retreated back into their shell.  As soon as I turned on the red light the marine snails crawled around as if it was nighttime. This red light feature allowed me to get the documentation photograph that I planned.

Cowrie shells are one of many beautiful marine animals found in Okinawa. Photographing the animals on white isolate the subject without any distractions.  

Chinese cowrie ( Ovatipsa chinensis )

Chinese cowrie ( Ovatipsa chinensis )

The animals are handled with care and then released back into the the environment without harm. The Images are used for conversation awareness and educational purposes.

 

Teres cowrie shell ( Blasicrura teres pellucens )

Teres cowrie shell ( Blasicrura teres pellucens )

I usually use the Sola Red light underwater. This is my underwater rig with the Light & Motion Sola 600 mounted on top of my Ikelite underwater housing. 

Underwater setup with sola 600

Underwater setup with sola 600

Learn more about the Light & Motion Sola series.   http://www.lightandmotion.com/choose-your-light/sola

Learn more about the Meet Your Neighbours Project.   http://meetyourneighbours.net/okinawa-neighbours/

Have a great day-

Light & Motion – The ultimate flashlight for wildlife photographers.

I have been using the Light & Motion Sola underwater lights for over two years now. I take them on all my adventures to include scuba diving, river trekking, caving and nature photography trips. These lights provide constant beautiful lighting and are extremely reliable, which is why they are the perfect light for me.

Below is a photograph of me using Light & Motion lights in the field. I am the Japan contributor for the Meet Your Neighbours field studio project. Photographing the animal on white isolates the subject without any distractions. The animals are handled with care and then released back into the environment without harm. The images are used for conversation awareness and educational purposes.
A photograph of me documenting the endangered species of the ryukyu islands

Photograph courtesy of  Gary Hughes          assistant – Shannon Fox

The Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica) is an endangered species found in Northern Okinawa. This turtle is decreasing in numbers due to poaching, deforestation and road kill. The turtle is high valued in the pet trade market and needs to be protected.

Ryukyu Black-breasted Leaf Turtle, Ryukyu Leaf Turtle ( Geoemyda japonica Fan, 1931 )

Ryukyu Black-breasted Leaf Turtle           MYN field studio

I recently purchased the Light & Motion Sola compact tray with the extension kit and one GoBe 700 wide light. I have been using this setup with the Canon 70D to document the wildlife in Okinawa. The flexible Loc-line arms are an awesome advantage. They are easy to move while having full control over the constant lighting.   

Using the Light & Motion field setup

Light & Motion field setup                         Photograph courtesy of Ross Gallardy

A photograph of a Ryukyu kajika frog in northern Okinawa using the Light & Motion field setup

okinawa frog

Ryukyu Kajika frog ( Buergeria japonica )

The Light & Motion Sola 600 has a built in feature most people do not take advantage of. The light has a red light function which allows the user to get close to land and marine subjects without disturbing them. This red light is very effective and I highly recommend using it.

Underwater setup with sola 600

My underwater rig with the Light & Motion Sola 600  - Ikelite housing and strobes

The Light & Motion Nightsea Sola light can also be used on land. I am always searching for animals that fluoresce in the Yanbaru forest in northern Okinawa. You never know what you will find!

Light & Motion Sola Nightsea Blue light - Riukiaria falcifera

Light & Motion Sola Nightsea Blue light    Millipede – Riukiaria falcifera

If you would like to know more about the Light & Motion Sola series visit.  http://www.lightandmotion.com/choose-your-light/sola

Have a great day!

Underwater Macro Photography with an Ikelite housing

I have always enjoyed shooting macro photography ever since I purchased my first camera. Underwater Macro photography is challenging due to currents, buoyancy control and back-scatter in the water. Below are a few underwater images photographed using the Canon 70D with a Canon EF 100 mm f/2.8 USM macro lens. The Camera and lens are enclosed in an Ikelite underwater housing. I am currently using one Ikelite DS-160 strobe along with one Ikelite DS-200 underwater.

Crowned Puffer (Canthigaster coronata) Okinawa, Japan

Crowned Puffer (Canthigaster coronata) Okinawa, Japan

Razor coral - Fungia sp ,Okinawa-Japan

Razor coral – Fungia sp ,Okinawa-Japan

Bio fluorescense underwater

Bio fluorescense underwater (Fungis scutaria) -Okinawa,Japan

Honeycomb coral (Diploastrea heliopora) Okinawa- Japan

Honeycomb coral (Diploastrea heliopora) Okinawa- Japan

Crocea Clam (Tridacna Crocea) Okinawa-Japan

Crocea Clam (Tridacna Crocea) Okinawa-Japan

Bubble Coral (Plerogyra sinuosa) Okinawa-Japan

Bubble Coral (Plerogyra sinuosa) Okinawa-Japan

If you are living In Okinawa-Japan and would like to purchase any Ikelite product, I highly recommend Ikelite Military Sales. You can contact them directly on Facebook with the link below. I usually receive my orders within five to seven days. This is very fast shipping living overseas.
If you are having trouble with the initial set up of your underwater system and need assistance contact me.
Stay tuned for more underwater images with the Canon 70d.

Why I use an Ikelite Underwater Housing for the Canon EOS 70D Camera.

 

Ikelite Underwater Housing for Canon EOS 70D Camera

Ikelite Underwater Housing for Canon EOS 70D Camera

Ikelite housings are by far the most affordable and reliable DSLR underwater housings on the market. Ikelite has over forty five years experience with underwater housings and lighting systems. They produce the widest range of housing for Canon, Nikon, Sony and more. Ikelite Underwater Systems provide quick repair, fast shipping and outstanding customer service.

Benefits and features

  • Made in the USA
  • 200 feet (60m) Depth Rating
  • Access to all important camera functions
  • Made from Corrosion proof polycorbonate
  • No guessing on the o-ring seal with a transparent housing
  • TTL/auto and manual strobe exposure modes
Ikelite Underwater Housing for Canon EOS 70D Camera , Okinawa-Japan

Ikelite Underwater Housing  for Canon EOS 70D Camera  - Okinawa

If you are living In Okinawa-Japan and would like to purchase any Ikelite product, I highly recommend Ikelite Military Sales. You can contact them directly on Facebook with the link below. I usually receive my orders within five to seven days. This is very fast shipping living overseas.

https://www.facebook.com/ikelite.camhousings

If you are having trouble with the initial set up of your underwater system and need assistance contact me.

Stay tuned for underwater images with the Canon 70d.

Have a great day!