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!

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 – January 17th 2016

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

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

Learn more about the lights used

Learn more about Meet your Neighbours Project

Have a great day!


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!