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Secret footage: dugong swimming in Henoko

The sea surrounding Okinawa is to be reclaimed to build a U.S. military base

Natsuko Shimabukuro Reporter for Ryukyu Asahi Broadcasting

In June 2007, Ryukyu Asahi Broadcasting coincidentally caught two dugongs swimming near Henoko on camera. It was initially thought that the two were mating but it was later revealed that they were a parent and child. The dugong had given birth in the Okinawa sea and was raising a child there.

The dugongs on the footage are believed to be Individual B and C.

It is said that dugongs that move around in groups are often mothers and their children. That is why it was presumed that B was the mother and C, which is small with a black beauty mark-like spot on the top of its right foreleg, was the child. The two lived mainly on the west coast, around the waters of Kourijima. It has, however, been confirmed that they have traveled about 100 km over to the east side, by way of Cape Hedo (Hedo-misaki) the northernmost point on Okinawa Island.

When I first read the Environmental Impact Assessment report, it was difficult to understand and tiring just to read it. As I read on, however, I became excited by feeling that I was reading what was unknown to us - a record of a dugong family living in the Okinawa waters. And before I knew it, I was thinking I wanted to watch over this parent and child’s tranquil way of life.

Around May 2009, the child, C, began to go off on its own. It had grown into an adult and become independent from its mother.

拡大Two dugongs spotted offshore of Okinawa’s Kourijima (Okinawa Defense Bureau’s Environmental Impact Assessment report)

Becoming independent from its mother, C made its way to “Henoko”

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