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!

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

Sword tailed newt

Sword tailed newt -Onna village

Sword tailed newt

Sword tailed newt – Onna village


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!

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

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

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

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 Spoonbills in flight

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Black-faced Spoonbill in flight

Black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor)

Black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor)

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!

Kuroiwa’s Ground Gecko, Threatened species!

Kuroiwa’s Ground Gecko is an endangered species found throughout Okinawa. This lizard is decreasing in numbers due to poaching, deforestation, and the threat of feral cats. The lizard is high valued in the illegal pet trade market and needs to protected. This is my favorite reptile to photograph on my night adventures in Okinawa.

  • Scientific name: Goniurosaurus kuroiwae
  • Distribution:  Okinawajima
  • Habitat:  Leaf littered forests 
  • Diet:  Worms and insects
  • Average Size:  110mm -130mm
Kuroiwa's Ground Gecko

Kuroiwa’s Ground Gecko

This is the first ground gecko I photographed in 2010. I found it under a piece of carpet in Onna Village. Illegal dumping is a huge problem in Okinawa.

1st Ground Gecko

1st Ground Gecko

In the daytime they live in caves, crevices and holes in the ground

Kuroiwa's Ground Gecko

Kuroiwa’s Ground Gecko

They come out to feed at night.  

Kuroiwa's Ground Gecko

Kuroiwa’s Ground Gecko

When they feel threatened they will stand up on all fours and try to intimate you with a stare down.

Kuroiwa's Ground Gecko

Kuroiwa’s Ground Gecko

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

Kuroiwa's Ground Gecko -MYN

Goniurosaurus kuroiwae orientalis – Ie Island

We found this juvenile ground gecko in the middle of the road.

Juvenile Ground gecko

Juvenile Ground gecko

A wide angle macro perspective .

Ground gecko -WAM

Ground gecko -Wide angle macro

Pay attention to crossing wildlife!

Kuroiwa's ground gecko -endangered

Kuroiwa’s ground gecko -endangered

Kuroiwa's ground gecko

Kuroiwa’s ground gecko top view

 

Let’s protect the beautiful animals of Okinawa!

Have a great day!

 

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

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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!

 

Slow Down! – Let’s Protect The Okinawa Rail

The Okinawa rail 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

The Okinawan rail -

The rail is often found feeding on the side of the road. It feeds on worms, snails and insects.

Okinawa rail posing ( Hypotaenidia okinawae)

Okinawa rail posing ( Hypotaenidia okinawae)

When defending its territory, the rail will become aggressive and flare its wings.

Angry Bird- Okinawa rail

Angry Bird- Okinawa rail

 

Okinawa rail awareness signs are posted along the main roads in northern Okinawa for their protection.

Okinawa rail awareness signs are posted

Okinawa rail awareness signs

The speed limit is only 40km/h so watch your speed for the protection of the wildlife. The rails are often seen feeding on the side of the road.

40km/h speed sign

Posted speed limit is 40km/h

I have observed these birds crossing the road on many occasions. They have no problems crossing when people are driving the speed limit. Speeding decreases your reaction time so slow down and pay attention to all crossing wildlife.

Okinawa rail crossing the road

Okinawa rail crossing the road

 

An Okinawa rail that was killed by a speeding motor vehicle on Route 2 in northern Okinawa.

okinawa rail - road kill

okinawa rail – road kill

Let’s protect the wildlife of Okinawa, Japan.

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!