Baby turtles at Hahajima’s touching pool
Tokyo, Water Activities

Where to meet Green Turtles on Ogasawara Islands

With its rich orange sunsets, blue and deep beaches and playful wildlife, Ogasawara Islands are unforgettable destinations. Moreover, Ogasawara is the perfect option to play with Green Turtles. Ogasawara Islands are the largest breeding ground for green turtles in Japan. So you’re wondering where to meet Green Turtles? Here are places for Green Turtles on Ogasawara Islands.

Green Turtles on Hahajima Island

Turtles lay eggs from May to August and the eggs hatch from around July to October. We saw baby turtles on both Hahajima and Chichijima Islands in August. Ogasawara people protect turtles and they share a very close relationship with them. We also enjoyed the turtle meat at dinner and it is a precious source of protein for islanders. 

Near the Wakihama Beach on Hahajima Island, you can see baby turtles hatching at the Sea Turtle Protection Center operated by Ogasawara Islands. When we went for a walk at 5:30am, Sea Turtle Protection Center Staff showed us just-born turtles. The weight of a Green Turtle would be 140 kg in some cases, and the walking trace looked like that of a caterpillar.Baby turtlesEvery morning we went to Wakihama to see baby turtles and swimming turtles in the protected area. One of the staff had studied barnacles on the turtle shells at the University and he had to bring turtles ashore to count the number of barnacles. It seemed so hard to swim with turtles guiding them ashore under the flaming sun. My son was eager to watch him to understand one of the ways to live, work and study in Ogasawara Islands. Traces of Green Turtles like a caterpillarGreen Turtles

Mother turtles on Chichijima Island

At Chichijima Island, we took a night tour to see Green Pepe, fruit bats, releasing of baby Sea Turtles and luckily, several mother Sea Turtles during their spawning. Mother turtles dig big holes of 5m length and 50cm depth to fit their eggs. They try to find the best places to spawn, often changing the place if they find rocks and roots as obstacles. Mother turtles stop spawning if they see lights, so it’s important to turn off all lights and torches when in their vicinity. Egg-laying siteWe also saw Sea Turtles of various ages at the Ogasawara Marine Center.Ogasawara Marine CenterOne year and a half year old turtle

Efforts to protect endemic species

I had complicated feelings after visiting Ogasawara Islands. If I had gone to some famous beach resorts in South East Asia, I would never have noticed. Ogasawara became a world heritage site inscribed in 2011 and it engages in many activities to protect endemic species. We encountered lots of efforts and spending to help protect them.Green TurtlesNot just to keep the world heritage title, but to maintain the beauty of the islands, islanders and researchers make great efforts. One of the tour guides brought back a huge amount of garbage held within her hands that she had collected while guiding and trekking with her guests in Minamizaki on Hahajima Island. She never left the garbage in the forest or town but instead brought it back to her house. I heard islanders set traps for alien species of lizards to protect endemic species and put special cages for stray cats and then find a foster family for them. At the same time, I found a lot of garbage on the beaches from the sea and alien species such as African snails and Coenobita on the beaches at night.

It is easy to say that protecting nature is important, but the cost and effort are uncountable. It is not simple and easy to practice. I was overwhelmed with how much effort we need to protect the nature. It seemed a huge project without concrete or visible goals. One thing I can say for sure is that I want to keep the sea clean in my own way.

When we went trekking and did sea activities, we needed to know the local rules and guidelines that have been set for natural treasures and endangered species, in order to preserve the natural environment.

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