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Okinawa City man saves, protects endangered coral

Date Posted: 2004-05-06

A tropical fish shop owner understands firsthand the delicate nature of coral. He is also aware of the coral crisis affecting Okinawa coral, where damage is becoming serious.

Kouji Kinjo of Okinawa City is taking matters into his own hands, literally, planting coral in fish tanks at his own store. He’s been planting the coral for more than 15 years at his home, using coral eggs brought from Indonesia. He thinks it’s a good idea, because coral are dieing every day.

The environmental breeder went to Indonesia personally to get the coral to hybridize with Okinawan species. A coral specialist became upset with the idea, Kinjo says, because you can “never hybridize Okianwan coral because it’s a different type of coral. Okinawan corals are best wherever they are found, and would decrease in value if hybridized with other corals.”

Coral specialists also note the potential for additional diseases, saying hybridizing is too dangerous. Kinjo’s spent some Y4,000,000 to buy Indonesian coral, and now his money’s gone.

And since he can’t hybridize them, he’s now the owner of 4,000 Okinawaan corals at his house, in a four meter long fishtank. He’s cut the coral brances and grows more, and plants more.

He gives them to the Chatan Town Fishermen’s Association to be returned to the ocean for planting. Kinjo says it’s becoming popular to plant the corals and return them to the ocean. The ocean, he says, “never knows that it’s originally coral from Okinawa, or from another country.”

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