Okinawa Tourism Information:SeaTurtleReleasewasheldat“OceanExpoPark”!

Sea Turtle Release was held at “Ocean Expo Park”!

post : 2015.07.16 19:00

Ocean Expo Park, which has a popular sightseeing spot in Okinawa, “Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium” held annual sea turtle release.  I would like to give you a report on the wonderful event! 

First, participants joined “Sea Turtle Experience Study” before releasing.  Using panels, a stuff member explained about sea turtles inhabiting in Okinawa, characteristics of sea turtles they were going to release, how a sea turtle is called in other parts of the world.  If you have some knowledge on sea turtles before releasing them, you will have affection for sea turtles, won’t you?

They experienced digging nests for sea turtles to lay eggs in a sand area on the beach!!

As sea turtles constructs a “body pit” by digging about a 60cm-deep hole to lay eggs.  Once children tried digging by themselves, the holes were deeper than they had thought.  “It is hard to dig as deep as 60cm!  I admire sea turtles!”  The children were impressed by a great effort of sea turtles.  Some of them enjoyed digging holes with their parents or friends.  Some competed who dig a 60cm-hole faster. 

Emerald Beach, which is situated in Ocean Expo Park and used for annual sea turtle release, is a beautiful beach for swimming, but actually sea turtles come here to lay eggs. 

Emerald Beach is such a lovely beach that I would like you to stop by when you come to Ocean Expo Park.

At the beautiful beach, the participating children pretended to be baby sea turtle and ask themselves “How do baby sea turtles move toward the sea after hatching from eggs?  What if there are many litters on the beach and in the sea?”  The children learned the ecology of sea turtles as well as the seas and nature of Okinawa. 

Participating children pretended to be a baby turtle in eggs in the nest.  The children are so biddable and cute! (LOL) 

Stuff members explained to them easily how to hold baby turtles properly.

For the sea turtle release this time, they released 127 baby turtles (72 loggerhead turtles, 51 green turtles), which were born at Sea Turtle Pool and had been raised for about a year. 

Children were checking baby turtles with identification numbers which they were going to release.

They put identification numbers to each baby sea turtle they were going to release.  Ocean Expo Park started annual sea turtle release with identification number in 1983, and a loggerhead turtle which they had released in 1985 was discovered off San Diego Coast in Los Angeles State, USA, which is more than 10,000km away from here!   They say that sea turtles which were released from Okinawa have been discovered in and outside of Japan.  It will bring you a feeling of romantic adventure if you think that a sea turtle you released will be discovered in the sea far away from here, or will be contributing to unknown discovery about the ecology of sea turtles. 

I thought a baby sea turtle was very small, but a one-year-old baby turtle had a scute of average 14.2cm.  It was much larger than expected. 

The boy said “I have held a baby sea turtle for the first time.”  He was surprised to be hit by the turtle with its flippers. 

Eighty-five couples, 301 people chosen by application from the public, 7 invited elementary school students from Motobu Town, and 34 international students living in Okinawa participated in the event.  

Surprised by brute strength of baby turtles, children who had held baby sea turtles for the first time lifted them with both hands very carefully, and “here we go!”  They released the sea turtles! 

The baby sea turtles moved forward all at once toward the vast ocean that they have not known yet.  Sometimes you saw baby turtles moving very slowly (LOL), but releasing time went by so quickly.

After all the baby turtles went into the sea, only white sand beach and the sound of wave were left behind, which made our heart ache a little.  The participants were hoping that they would be able to meet sea turtles which they had just released again someday.  If a sea turtle release will be held again, I would love to join it!!  It was a very fascinating event with impressive smiles of the participants.  For the past several years, the event has been held on one day in June or July.  When the event is held, it will be notified in advance through the official website of Ocean Expo Park.  So if the event is held next year again, why don’t you participate it?

Of the eight species of sea turtles that exist worldwide, Sea Turtle Pool keeps hawksbill turtles, loggerhead turtles, green sea turtle as well as Kemp's Ridley turtles and black turtles, which are rarely found in Japan.  You can view the turtles swimming in the water both from above and side, so please come and see sea turtles swimming gracefully for your memory in summer vacation during the trip to Okinawa!!

In addition, “Sea Turtle Exhibit” is held during the summer vacation (From Wednesday, July 15, 2015 to Monday, August 31 / 8:30 to 19:00 (*Last Entry 18:30).  They display many panel that shows the ecology and reproduction of sea turtles inhabiting in Okinawa, the actual weight model of sea turtle, plastination specimen, etc.

Among all the participants, I found a standout boy who loved turtles.  He was wearing a cap, a T-shirt, and a bag, all of which either is shaped like a turtle or has an illustration of turtles!  

Ocean Expo Park(Ocean Expo Park Management Center)
Address: 424 Ishikawa, Motobu Town, Kunigami County, Okinawa
TEL: 0980-48-2741
Please check the following official website for opening hours of each facility, opening hours, closing days, free admission day, etc.

Okinawa CLIP Photo Writer  0173 (Reina Chinen)