The Good, the Bad or the Evil – The Crow’s of Okinawa

The Jungle crow (Corvus macrorhynchos) is found throughout the Ryukyu Islands. They are abundant here and can be found all over Okinawa. Populations have increased due to the readily available food, left on the side of the road and in dumpsters. Its important to keep your trash enclosed in cages to prevent the crows from getting to it.

  • Scientific name: Corvus macrorhynchos
  • Local name: Jungle crow
  • Distribution:  Ryukyu Islands
  • Habitat:  Farms,cities ,forests and grasslands.
  • Diet:  Eats almost everything
  • Average size:  50cm  body length 
  • Color:  Black
Jungle crow and plastic

Jungle crow and plastic

Jungle crow -Okinawa Japan

Jungle crow -Okinawa Japan

The farmers in Onna village put up this deterant to keep the crows from coming back.

Crow cross -Onna village

Crow cross -Onna village

Crows can be viscous predators. They often harass other birds, showing off their strength.

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These intelligent birds work as a team to get what they want. I have personally seen them raid baby birds from the nest. I have seen them fly away with juvenile woodpeckers, rails and swallows.

Crow taking the okinawa woodpecker from the nest

Crow taking the okinawa woodpecker from the nest

To control the population of jungle crows in northern Okinawa, they use large traps to catch them in. One way in and no way out !

Crow trap - Northern Okinawa

Crow trap – Northern Okinawa

Possibly a strange growth that occurred from an injury (broken beak). Could this be one of the few crows that made a successful escape from a trap.

A crow with a hook beak

A crow with a extended hook beak

As much as we dislike the crow, they do have a purpose in the ecosystem. They clean the dead animals (road kill) off the road, keeping our environment clean from rotting carcasses. I often see them feeding on cats, snakes, lizards, birds and rats dead in the road.

Mongoose -roadkill

Mongoose -roadkill

Crow feeding on a cat

Crow feeding on a cat by Shawn Miller

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Crows eating roadkill -Okinawa

They also feed on the large green caterpillars that destroy the farmers taro (Taanmu) crops in Kin village

Crows of Okinawa

Crows of Okinawa -The Regulators

Have a great day!

 

Seashells of Okinawa

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 to 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

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!

Meet Your Neighbours project – Okinawa, Japan

Founded in 2009, Meet Your Neighbours is a worldwide photographic initiative created by Niall Benvie and Clay Bolt. The project is dedicated to reconnecting people with the wildlife on their own doorsteps and enriching their lives in the process. These creatures and plants are vital to people: they represent the first, and for some, the only contact with wild nature we have. Yet too often they are overlooked, undervalued.

There are seventy-five worldwide contributors to this powerful project. I am currently  the Japan contributor to this project. All images are used for conservation awareness and educational purposes.  Below are some of my favorite images.

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Okinawan green tree frog

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Percnon planissimum – crab

Cherry blossom  -Mt Yaedake

Cherry blossom -Mt Yaedake

Crabs with beach trash homes

Crabs with beach trash homes

Kuroiwa's Ground Gecko -MYN

Kuroiwa’s Ground Gecko -MYN

Porcelain crab ( Petrolisthes hastatus ) -Okinawa

Porcelain crab ( Petrolisthes hastatus ) -Okinawa

Ryukyu odd-tooth snake ( Dinodon semicarinatum )

Ryukyu odd-tooth snake ( Dinodon semicarinatum )

Scopimera ryukyuensis - Ryukyu Islands

Scopimera ryukyuensis – Ryukyu Islands

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Fern – Ryukyu Islands

 

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Gray faced buzzard eagle

Gray faced buzzard eagle

Princess habu -MYN technique

Princess habu -MYN technique

Charybdis japonica -Yagaji Island

Charybdis japonica -Yagaji Island

American bullfrog - Izena Island

American bullfrog – Izena Island

Chinese cowrie

Chinese cowrie

Okinawan Habu- MYN field studio technique

Okinawan Habu- MYN field studio technique

Okinawan mud lobster

Okinawan mud lobster

Sesarmops intermedius

Sesarmops intermedius

Air breathing marine slug

Air breathing marine slug

Unidentified earthworm -  MYN and under Blue light Kume Island

Unidentified earthworm – MYN and under Blue light Kume Island

Geograpsus grayi

Geograpsus grayi

Anderson's crocodile newt

Anderson’s crocodile newt

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Have a great day !

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

Sword tailed newt  Sword tailed newt

Sword tailed newt -yanbaru forest


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

Pay attention to crossing wildlife

Road kill- Sword tailed newt  Sword tailed newt

Road kill- Sword tailed newt Sword tailed newt

Lets protect the wildlife of Okinawa!

 

 

 

 

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

July 8th 2017, I took the Loawa 60mm out for another spin. This time I did not use underwater strobes.  I set the Aperture on F5.6, shutter speed 1/200-1/640 sec and ISO settings 400-2500.  I used the Light&Motion Sola 3800 and Sola 1200 to provide beautiful fill light.

Underwater setup  - Laowa 60mm

Underwater setup – Laowa 60mm

Mushroom coral -Sola 1200 red

Mushroom coral -Sola 1200 red

Octo coral- Laowa 60mm

Octo coral- Laowa 60mm

Bubble tip anemone - Laowa 60mm

Bubble tip anemone – Laowa 60mm

Stag horn coral - Laowa 60mm

Stag horn coral – Laowa 60mm

July 9th 2017, I did some more testing using two Ikelite strobes and the Light&Motion Sola 3800 modeling light. I set the sync speed at 1/250sec,  Aperature at F8 and Iso 100.

Finding Nemo Okinawa

Finding Nemo Okinawa

Brittle star on coral -Okinawa

Brittle star on coral -Okinawa

Scythe triggerfish -Laowa 60mm macro

Scythe triggerfish -Laowa 60mm macro

 

If you plan to purchase any Venus optics please click on the Affiliate link below  http://www.venuslens.net/ref/40/?campaign=OkinawaNaturePhotography

Have a great day!

Capturing fluorescence – Fluorescence enhancement photography by Shawn Miller

Featured

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 underwater and getting beautiful vibrant results.

Underwater fluorescence - Shawn Miller featured Blue planet 11

Underwater fluorescence – Shawn Miller featured Blue planet 11

Here are some of my favorite images using this fluorescence enhancement technique. All Images I used Light&Motion Sola lights to achieve these beautiful vibrant results.

Green fire- coral polyps

Green fire- coral polyps © Shawn Miller

nightsea and sola 600 blended

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended,  -  fluorescence © Shawn Miller

Coral  art

Coral art © Shawn Miller

Coral Okinawa

Coral Okinawa © Shawn Miller

Tube anemone -

Tube anemone – © Shawn Miller

Patterns and texture-

Patterns and texture-© Shawn Miller

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence© Shawn Miller

blue light ambient light no ylfilter.jpg 4

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence© Shawn Miller

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence © Shawn Miller

nighsea and sola 600 blended no yl filter 1

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence© Shawn Miller

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence© Shawn Miller

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- Luminescence a fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence© Shawn Miller

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence © Shawn Miller

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- Luminescence a fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence © Shawn Miller

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence© Shawn Miller

Coral with Acoel flatworms

Coral with Acoel flatworms © Shawn Miller

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence© Shawn Miller

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- Luminescence a fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence© Shawn Miller

Razor coral-

Razor coral-© Shawn Miller

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- Luminescence a fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence© Shawn Miller

Learn more about Light and Motion lights - 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!

 

Pryer’s woodpecker (Dendrocopos noguchii) -Endangered species

Pryer’s woodpecker (Dendrocopos noguchii) is the prefecture bird of Okinawa and designated as a natural treasure of Japan. They are a rare species only found in the northern part of Okinawa and are currently listed critically endangered on the IUCN red list of threatened species.

  • Scientific name (Dendrocopos noguchii)
  • Distribution:  Northern Okinawa
  • Habitat: Yanbaru Forest
  • Diet:  Beetle larvae, moths, spiders, centipedes and fruit
  • Average Size:  30cm – 35mm

Shawn Miller featured – WILDLIFE AS CANON SEES IT -Published National Geographic May 2015. Bringing awareness to the endangered species of the Ryukyu Islands one image at a time. 

Woodpecker featured Nat Geo May 2015

Woodpecker featured Nat Geo May 2015 -

The woodpecker can rotate its head 180 degrees to capture the difficult insects. This is the first and only time I have observed this occurring.

Pryer's woodpecker  180 head twist

Pryer’s woodpecker 180 head twist

This woodpecker is unique. It feeds its young only one insect at a time.

Pryer's woodpecker in flight

Pryer’s woodpecker in flight

Both parents stay busy feeding the chicks. The nests can have up to three chicks.

Pryer's woodpecker feeding chick

Pryer’s woodpecker feeding chick

The woodpeckers biggest threats are deforestation and natural predators.

The woodpeckers natural threat

The woodpeckers natural threat – Jungle Crow

My favorite image of The Pryer’s woodpecker.

Pryer's woodpecker (Sapheopipo Noguchii) Yanbaru forest

Pryer’s woodpecker (Sapheopipo Noguchii) Yanbaru forest

Lets protect the wildlife of Okinawa.

Have a great day!

Kuroiwa’s Ground Gecko, Endangered species!

Featured

Kuroiwa’s Ground Gecko is a beautiful lizard found throughout the Ryukyu Islands. It is currently listed endangered on the IUCN red list of threatened species.  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 one of my favorite reptiles to photograph on my night adventures in Okinawa.

  • Scientific name: Goniurosaurus kuroiwae
  • Distribution:  Okinawa Islands
  • Habitat:  Leaf littered forests 
  • Diet:  Worms and insects
  • Average Size:  110mm -130mm
Featured- Wildlife As Canon Sees.  National Geographic October 2017

Shawn Miller Featured- Wildlife As Canon Sees. National Geographic October 2017

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

They have some strange looking feet -

 Ryukyu Ground gecko

Ryukyu Ground gecko

When I approached this ground gecko it stayed in place. I found three Mosquitoes sucking the blood right out of it. the first time I observed mosquitoes on a lizard.

Blood suckers

Blood suckers

 

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

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!