ISHIGAKI WILD LIFE
※ Hermit crab
Visible on many beaches, biggest ones can have 10 cm in diameter or more. You will find hermit crabs with many different kinds of shells. The blue cave beach is also called 'The hermit crab beach'.
In Japanese: yadokari (ヤドカリ)
Beautiful multicolour fish. It's usually mainly blue, then has nuances of green, yellow, orange and purple. There are different sorts of it. Some are mainly purple, and more or less big. This fish is everywhere and easily visible in snorkeling. You will see it again at the supermarket, sold in sashimi or as it is.
In Japanese: irabucha (イラブチャ)
※ Butterfly fish
The one you can often see is yellow, white and black. However there are many varieties. Some have a golden skin (like those on the picture), others have orange lines. They are easy to see in snorkeling.
Japanese name: chouchou-uo (チョウチョウウオ)
※ Lined surgeonfish
Tropical oval fish with multicolour lines. It is esay to see in shallow waters, especially on the Yonehara coast.
Japanese name: Nijihagi (ニジハギ)
※ Sea turtle
Specially visible during summer, you will have to swim outside of the reef if you want to have a chance to see them. Ozaki beach in Saki Eda is a famous area where turtles can be observed. Swimming conditions have to be good enough.
Baby turtles find their way to the sea looking at the reflection of the moon on the ocean. In order to avoid to disturb them, many beach use orange public lights. Using white color lights would show them a wrong way to the death.
Egg-laying season: mid-May - beginning of November
In Japanese: umigame (ウミガメ)
※ Clown fish (nemo)
The nemo lives with its family in a sea anemone, whose comes its official name: anemone fish. The bigger of the group is the female. In case the female dies, the sex of the male changes to a female to take over. Those fish are visible here and there, but they don't move as they stay nearby their house, the anemone. Yonehara beach is a good spot to start exploring them.
Japanese name: Kakure kumanomi (カクレクマノミ)
※ Tomato clown fish
Rounder, bigger and more red than the nemo, this fish lives in a sea anemone as well.
Japanese name: hama kumanomi (ハマクマノミ)
※ Blue damselfish (or blue demoiselle)
Small blue fish found everywhere, specially easy to see in shallow waters. Those fish are often grouped nearby big coral rocks. At low tide, you may see them easily just having a walk.
Japanese name: Luly suzume dai (ルリスズメダイ)
※ Moorish idol
Very beautiful triangular fish with black, yellow and white stripes. Its an exceptional fish with a big noise, big eyes and a sickle-shaped crest. It swims alone or by pair.
Japanese name: tsunodashi (ツノダシ)
※ Lagoon tiggerfish
A multicolour fish easy to see in snorkeling. Is is not dangerous but in order to defend its territory, the fish twists in your direction in an aggressive way. At low tide, sometimes, it nibbles your foot or your leg.
Japanese name: murasame mongara (ムラサメモンガラ)
As the blue demoiselle, it's a few centimeters fish living in groups. It is easier to see it nearby big coral rocks.
Japanese name: Ryuukyuu suzume dai (リュウキュウスズメダイ)
※ Lion fish (Pterois)
Striped with red-brown colours, there are different varieties of lion fish. On its fins very venomous spikes rays should never be touched. It moves very slowly so you should have time to observe it safely.
Japanese name: kasago (カサゴ)
※ Blotched foxface (Rabbitfish familly)
Funny name for this tropical fish with a long nose. Size beween 20 and 25 cm.
Japanese name: Hifuki aigo (ヒフキアイゴ)
※Banded sea krait
Very venomous sea snake measuring between 70 and 150 cm. It's not aggressive but you may be surprised by its sudden rise to the surface (in order to breathe). Longitudinal, its stripes are black and white or black and blue. In theory its mouth is so small that it can't bite a man.
Japanese name: Erabu-umi-hebi (エラブウミヘビ)
※ Sea cucumber
The most common is the black sea cucumber you will see easily specially on Yonehara coast. The sea cucumber has an ocean cleaner function. Its presence is essential. Smallest do few centimeters. Some are very big and thick with beautiful patterns. In China sea cucumbers are eaten. In Japan, it is used in the conception of soft medecine, Kampo.
Japanese name: namako (ナマコ)
(Picture: Black square sea cucumber)