Onna, Japan

Sampling the coast of Okinawa

I have been working in Japan CT scanning the brains of fishes from museum specimens with Dan Warren and Teresa Iglesias at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology . In addition to spending hours everyday CT scanning, we are also attempting to opportunistically sample fishes. Unfortunately, dangerous conditions underwater are preventing us from doing a lot of scuba based fieldwork. So we are getting creative, working the shallows, and scouting out new areas to sample.

Scouting and sampling

Dive conditions most days have been incredibly dangerous. Currents here have claimed the lives of many divers, and most days the sea has looked like a washing machine. One of the famous local dive sites here is named “Toilet Bowl”. On calm days a beautiful rocky cove dive. Most days it looks like this.
The “Toilet Bowl”, one of our candidate dive sites, during poor conditions. We did manage to dive this site once, but since it has pretty much looked like this. The entry is where the wave is crashing. We talked to two army divers who got trapped here when the weather changed and ended up climbing the backside of the cliff to the left to get out.

The hike down to the “Toilet Bowl” is not easy even without full scuba gear.

Instead of diving we have been doing a fair bit of fishing to try to get samples. We found a seawall we can fish when the tide isn’t in, and also have been scouting other areas we can cast out from.
Fishing a seawall with Dan Warren.

Scouting out new locations to fish from. Most of the coast is comprised of jagged rocks, making for some interesting missions.

Some of our most successful non-dive field expeditions have involved tidepooling at low tide. The tidal exhange in some areas is very significant, creating a vast landscape of pools full of fishes specialized for this type of environment, as well as those that just got stuck.
View of some tidepools that form twice a day. These pools are home to a wide range of fishes such as stonefish, dragonets, and blennies.

Although the weather has been pretty crazy for this time of year, we’re hoping to also get some more dives in soon. Stay tuned!

Dialogue & Discussion