Sea turtles return to Onna Village to nest after two years

Sea turtles return to Onna Village to nest after two years

Terunobu Yamauchi, center, counting sea turtle eggs on a beach in Nakadomari, Onna Village, on June 3.

June 6, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo
By Kengo Kyan

Onna Village, Okinawa—On June 3, for the first time in two years, sea turtles were observed nesting at a beach in Nakadomari. Around 124 pink eggs the size of ping-pong balls were found. Terunobu Yamauchi, 82, who has been a conservationist for over 25 years, explained: “Last year was the first time the turtles did not lay eggs, which had me worried.” He wiped beads of sweat from his forehead and said, “I’m ecstatic.”

During the May-to-September nesting season, Yamauchi wakes up at 5 a.m. every morning to patrol 1 kilometer of the shoreline in Onna Village. He also removes vines and picks up washed-up marine litter to aid the sea turtles nest.

Last year, for the first time, there were no signs of sea turtles having nested in the area. He explains he was anxious and wondered to himself, “Is it because of environmental pollution? Or climate change? Will they come back to nest?”

Early morning on June 3, Yamauchi found sea turtle trails on the beach. In the evening, he unearthed the eggs with fellow conservationists Hide Kohagura, 83, and Yoshikazu Yogi, 52. They have posted warning signs and will be keeping a close watch until the eggs hatch in approximately 60 days.

Yogi said, “I’m glad. There weren’t very many eggs two years ago.” Meanwhile, Kohagura said, “It’s great connecting with living beings.” Yamauchi added, “I grew up here and I’m fond of this place. I don’t know how long I can continue [the conservation work] but I would like to keep going.”

(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)

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