MOE investigates sightings of two dugong near Hateruma Island

MOE investigates sightings of two dugong near Hateruma Island

April 18, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

On April 16 the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) publicized the results of its 2018 investigation of the dugong habitat.

According to the investigation, on August 22, 2018 two dugong specimens thought to be parent and child were seen from a helicopter at Taketomi Town’s Hateruma Island in the Sakishima Islands.

There is no proof of the sighting, such as a photograph, so it cannot act as verification of the dugong habitat, but a staff member of the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters at Ishigaki Airport also claimed to have spotted the dugong in that area while flying a helicopter.

The MOE stated, “The Sakishima Islands are generally a dugong habitat, so it is not strange for them to be there.

” It also mentioned its intention to continue habitat investigations including underwater audio recording.

An audio recording study concerning the dugong habitat in the Sakishima Islands was last conducted in 2004, 14 years ago.

According to the MOE, the verified dugong habitat has been limited to the vicinity of Okinawa Island since 1970.

Habitat investigation results mention a dugong spotted from an aircraft on June 6, 2013 in the vicinity of Tarama Island in the Sakishima Islands, and kayakers’ eyewitness reports of dugong off the northern shore of Iriomote Island between early spring and summer in 2013 and 2014.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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