Ama* – ‘women of the sea’ – came together from around Japan and Korea for their third annual Ama Summit in Toba City, Mie Prefecture, October 29 and 30, 2011. Hosted by Dr. Yoshitaka Ishihara, Director of the Toba Sea-Folk Museum, the summit offered academic talks, cultural presentations, and a seafood banquet. It culminated with the reports of Ama representatives from their local associations on Sunday afternoon. Seventy-eight Ama from 13 different regions, plus academics, journalists, and other interested parties attended the summit (total: 346 people). A highlight of the meeting was the release of juvenile abalone into the waters around Ousatsu Town on Sunday morning (see Photo 1).
After a long couple of weeks of asking around I finally was able to complete a survey on what college students love the most and what they hate the most. I asked 50 men and 50 women to give me their top 10 lists. I got various answers ranging all the way from family to phones to parties.
In the first subject: what it is that every college student loves, I found a lot of the students chose “having the newest gadget” their number one thing on the list; 53% of the students placed having the newest phone or tablet as one of their top 10 most favorite things.
“Going to the best party of the weekend” was third on the list with 47 of the students. Second on the list was sleep (which I can put my vote for as the number one!) with 51 of the students saying sleep is the most loved thing but they don’t have enough time to do it.
The list of the top 10 things that appeared on everyone’s list is below. Continue reading
The definition of courage is the quality of mind, or spirit, that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, without fear; bravery. It is also the heart as the source of emotion.
Hello my fellow GCC friends! It’s so wonderful to be writing to you again, can you believe how fast this spring semester is flying by? But then again… For every individual it’s different. I can’t imagine what it’s like for a single mother raising a child while working and going to school full-time? That is the most admirable act of courage I know, which brings me to the thesis of my blog: courage.
Have the courage to be wrong; how else will you learn?
What is interesting and quite incredible, is that we all perform acts of courage every day. Such as having the courage to stand out at work and display leadership abilities then use those abilities to pursue your fullest potential, whatever they may be for you.
You show courage, when you open up and talk to a stranger, or even help out around the house. These are simple acts of self-less courage, and are very fulfilling. Think about it, nowhere is it written that you must perform acts of courage. You can go through your day and stick to your same routine. But when we go outside ourselves, such as adding change to our old routines and especially standing up for yourself, this is courage, my friends!
For me, learning simple acts of courage was such a challenge. I was terrified to raise my hand in the classroom; I felt stupid, inadequate and that I couldn’t contribute. I felt I had no business in the classroom whatsoever. My education could have ended right then, in my first college course, Philosophy 101. But ironically enough, philosophy was the right class for me to be in at the right time. First, I had an outstanding professor who really challenged to entire class to speak up, as he said, “Have the courage to be wrong; how else will you learn?”
That statement stuck with me like glue, and inch by inch, yard by yard, I began chipping away at my own self-doubts and made improvements bit by bit, each day in class. In all honesty, it wasn’t but a few weeks into the course that I went from not being able to raise my hand to not being able to keep the damn thing down! Now that’s courage.
So, to all my fellow peers who have a vision, but your self-doubt is keeping you from working toward it, realize my friends, you have courage, we all do, and we will all get there, together.
Kushimoto, the southernmost city of Japan’s mainland, is home to the world’s northernmost coral reefs (see Photos 1 & 2, and Map)
Although its latitude is the same as Santa Catalina Island, California (33o28’ North), Kushimoto lies directly in the path of the Kuroshio Current (see Map).
The Kuroshio Current brings warm water from the tropics to the coast of Japan, similar to the Gulf Stream of the Atlantic Ocean. Kushimoto’s sea temperatures average 27oC (80.6oF) in August, compared to 20.5oC (68.9 oF) in Santa Catalina Island. Along with the warm water, the Kuroshio Current transports the planktonic larvae of corals and tropical fish to Kushimoto (see Photo 3 & Video 1). Dr. Kotera and his colleagues at the Kushimoto Marine Park Aquarium have documented more than 1,500 species of fish in and around Kushimoto (Photo 4). Thus, I went to Kushimoto to observe and photograph these fish (see Photo 5). I also wanted to compare these fish to those I was familiar with from Santa Catalina Island, Rocky Point (northern Sea of Cortez) and the islands of French Polynesia and Hawaii.
My first dives in Kushimoto were made in June and July of 2009, which were also my first dives in mainland Japan (six SCUBA dives and snorkeling). I identified 89 species of fish from 42 families and 72 genera*. Of these, 63 species were new to me, as were six of the families and 22 of the genera (see Photos 6-14). The familiar species were fishes I had encountered either in French Polynesia, Hawaii, or both (e.g. Photo 15). None of these species occur in California no Rocky Point.
Photos 11a-11c are representatives of three ‘new’ families of fish. Each of these families is relatively small, with 18, 6 and 11 species (respectively).
This year I made another series of dives in August 2011 and in February 2012 to identify additional species, and to compare the fish community between summer and winter. Including my dives in 2009, my list of Kushimoto fish now includes 167 species, in 52 families and 107 genera. Only one new family was added to this list (Coryphaenidae) when I finally saw a mahi mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) while making my safety stop at the end of a dive (camera turned off). An additional 16 new genera and 57 new species were added to my 2009 identifications (totals: 7 new families, 38 new genera and 120 new species).
Two species were seen on every dive this year: neon damselfish, Pomacentrus coelestis, (Pomacentridae, Photo 16) and scalpel sawtails, Prionurus scalprum (Acanthuridae, Photo 17). Almost as common were yellowtail clownfish (Amphiprion clarkii, Pomacentridae, Photo 18), oriental butterflyfish (Photo 2), spottedtail morwongs, Goniistius zonatus (Cheilodactylidae, Photo 19), whitesaddle goatfish, Parupeneus ciliatus (Mullidae, Photo 20), brown-lined puffers, Canthigaster rivulata (Tetraodontidae, Photo 21), Japanese parrotfish, Calotomus japonicus, (Scaridae, Photo 22) and four species of wrasses (Labridae): cupid wrasses, Thalassoma cupido , cutribbon wrasses, Stethojulis interrupta , red naped wrasses Pseudolabrus eoethinus , and cleaner wrasses, Labroides dimidiatus (see Photos 23 & 15).
Wrasses (Family Labridae) are the second largest family of marine fish, colorful and easily seen while diving. Wrasses were the most speciose group seen in Kushimoto: 27 species in 14 genera; 19 of these species and 8 genera were new (Photo 24). Similarly, damselfish (Pomacentridae, 13 species in seven genera) and butterflyfish (Chaetodontidae; 10 species in three genera) were well represented. These three families are broadly distributed in the tropics, but rare in temperate zones. Santa Catalina Island, for example, is inhabited by only three wrasses, two damselfish (including the state marine fish, garibaldi, Hypsypops rubicundus) and one butterflyfish.
Gobies (Family Gobiidae) are the most speciose family of marine fishes. However, gobies include the smallest of all fish, many hide in caves and rocks, and they tend not to be seen on a general reef survey (Photo 25). Similarly, blennies are relatively common, yet small and overlooked (but see Photo 26). Other species are rare, and highly cryptic, such as this frogfish seen in Kushimoto (Photo 27). Finding small cryptic fish takes much time, or the help of an experienced dive guide. Fortunately, Aki Tanimai helped me find some of these fish.
Many of the more common species are limited to the northwest Pacific: Japan, Korea and the East China Sea (e.g. oriental butterflyfish, Japanese butterflyfish, Nagasaki damselfish) while others are broadly distributed. The following four species come from small families. Two common fishes with limited distributions in the Pacific were the threadsail filefish, Stephanolepis cirrihifer (Family Monacanthidae, Photo 28) and the largescale blackfish, Girella punctata (Family Girellidae, Photo 29). However, both of these fishes were found elsewhere in Japan. By comparison, two broadly distributed tropical species common in Kushimoto were the Moorish Idol, Zanclus cornutus (Family Zanclidae, Photo 30) and eyestripe surgeonfish, Acanthurus dussumieri (Family Acanthuridae, Photo 31). Neither of these fishes were seen elsewhere in Japan.
Despite the Kuroshio Current, the waters around Kushimoto cool off significantly in the winter, 15-17 oC (59-62.6 oF). Some of the tropical fish that arrive as plankton in the spring and summer, cannot survive the lower winter temperatures. Whereas I identified an average of 41.2 species (range: 35-48) per dive in the summer, I found an average of 35 species (range: 20-43) per dive in the winter. Five of the species seen in February, but not in the summer, were single juveniles (e.g. the butterflyfish in Photo 3a), recently arrived on the Kuroshio Current. They may not live long in the cold water. However, Dr. Kotera has seen more species survive the winter over the last few years, which he attributes to global warming.
The Shionomisaki Peninsula, the southernmost extension of Kushimoto, traps warm water on its western side, while the current is diverted somewhat offshore on the eastern side of the peninsula (see Photo 32). I made boat dives and beach dives on each side of the peninsula. Temperatures were 2-5 oC (3.6-9.0 oF) warmer on the western side. Species diversity was similar in the summer, but in the winter there were fewer species on the colder, eastern side of the peninsula.
The reefs of Kushimoto are referred to as ‘the Mecca of diving in Japan’ for good reason. The conditions were generally good for diving, visibility ranged from 5-30 m (16-100’) and the water was generally warm, although a bit colder than expected in winter. Moreover, the diverse fishes and other marine organisms provide many subjects of study. Marina and Ami enjoyed snorkeling with me and Marina sketched clownfish while I searched for new species. Even non-divers can watch fish from the Underwater Observation Tower (Photos 4 & 33). Much thanks to Dr. Kotera of the Kushimoto Marine Park Aquarium for sharing his knowledge of the local fishes, and Akihiko Tanimai (Photo 34) owner and Divemaster of Dive Station for his expertise in bringing me to all these fish. Attached (below) is a complete list of fish identified. Here are a few more pictures of fish (Photos 35-41 & Video 2) and two cephalopods from Kushimoto (Photo 42 & Video 3).
* The scientific names used here were based on the field guide ‘Fishes of Japan’ by Okamura and Amaoka, 1997, Yama-Eki Publishers, Tokyo (in Japanese), modified by the advice of Dr. Kotera and his working list of fish in and around Kushimoto. Other scientific names (synonyms) are in use for some of these species; the common names vary locally.