Endangered Tern spotted in Henoko

Endangered Tern spotted in Henoko

Ajisashi fly and look for food above Oura Bay where new base construction continues.

May 29, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo

An endangered Tern was flying on the ocean in the shining sun. The summer migratory bird called Ajisashi in Japan visits Okinawa during the season to lay eggs. On May 29, multiple Ajisashi were spotted at Oura Bay in Nago city, where the construction of new military base following the relocation of Futenma air base is taking place.

“An Ajisashi is flying in front of the fishing boat.” As I looked at the direction the captain of the protest boat pointed out, there was the white bird flying. The bird flew in a circle and took a sudden dive to hunt small fish in the water. Oura Bay is known for an abundance of seafood.

Ajisashi fly and look for food above Oura Bay where new base construction continues.

Meanwhile, the landfilling continues, and the Japan Coast Guard’s rubber rafts remain behind the Ajisashi. “I wonder how the birds keep eating at a place like this,” the captain murmured. A man who has watched the birds in Oura Bay told me that, “The number of Ajisashi has been declining.”

Ajisashi lay eggs in dips and holes on rocks around the ocean, however the birds immediately leave their eggs once they see a human around their place.

It is thought that Okinawa is the world’s largest breeding ground for the birds, and it is possible that the Ajisashi would go extinct if they are not able to reproduce in Okinawa.

Ajisashi is listed as vulnerable on the Red List of Threatened Species by the Ministry of the Environment. Perhaps the bird was satisfied with the catch or bothered by the noise of construction, as it flew to away soon after.

(English translation by T&CT and Sayaka Sakuma)

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