On March 5th 2014, the Ministry of the Environment of Japan designated Kerama Islands in Okinawa as Japan’s 31st national park. The Kerama Islands is the first new national park designated since 1987, when the Kushiro Marshland in Hokkaido became a national park.
Located around 40 kilometers west of Naha City, Okinawa Main Island, the Kerama Islands are known for one of the world’s clearest water and diverse coral reef, even as a breeding ground for humpback whales. Akajima Marine Science Laboratory located in Aka Island has confirmed that 14 families, 59 genera, 248 species of coral have been found on the surrounding Kerama Islands. Since 400 species of coral have been identified in Japan, more than 60% of them inhabit Kerama’s water.
The ministry also designated surrounding waters shallower than 30 meters as a marine park and will strictly restrict development within them, such as the extraction of sand.
The Kerama Islands will be the second location for a national park in Okinawa, following the area extending over the waters and islands around Iriomote and Ishigaki Island, which were designated as the Iriomote Ishigaki National Park in 1972.
Related Website: http://en.okinawastory.jp/enjoy/okinawanblue/kerama/
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