Kerama deer swims across sea searching for a mate
November 13, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo
Hideaki Yoneda reports from Tokashiki
A wild Kerama deer, a government-designated protected species inhabiting the Kerama Islands, was observed swimming in the ocean around 3:00 p.m. on November 2. Masayuki Komine, a staff member at Tokashiki Village Office, took a photograph of the male deer as it crossed from the beach south of Tokashiki port to Cape Gizu-zaki shore road after swimming about 300 meters.
Residents have witnessed the antlered deer on his swim for the past three years. He swims across the sea in the port, and on this occasion crew members and passengers on the Tokashiki ferry were able to enjoy the swimming deer before their departure.
Komine, the successful photographer of the deer, said, “I was able to take a video last year as well. The deer is very good at swimming. He splashes across the sea in about 15 minutes making waves as he goes.” A resident familiar with Kerama deer, their habits and habitats also said, “It’s the breeding season for the deer. He was probably searching for females and swam across the port to avoid passing through the village.”
Wild Kerama deer in Tokashiki village were abundant until the early Showa period but numbers declined after they were captured because of the damage they caused to agricultural crops.
There are many Kerama deer in Zamami village, and fishermen around the islands have seen the deer swimming to Tokashiki Island occasionally. A local resident managed to take a photo of one doing this in October 1990. Local residents also witnessed a female deer with fawns in Tokashiki village five years ago. From fall to winter, male deer often come near human dwellings on the island.
(English translation by T&CT and Sayaka Sakuma)
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