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Seaweed invades blue coral reef in Shiraho, Ishigaki

Date Posted: 2003-10-03

The World Wildlife Fund Japan says the blue coral reef in Shiraho off Ishigaki Island, the largest of its kind in the world, is facing a new threat. WWFJ officials say that suddenly the surface of the coral has become covered with green seaweeds, and they do not know why. WWFJ officials who monitor the reef regularly say that a month ago the reef was clear of any seaweed, but the weeds started to appear about one week ago and have spread over the entire area since.

A WWFJ member who has kept watch on the coral at Shiraho for four years says that he has never seen anything like that before. “This is the first time ever I have seen green seaweed to grow over a living coral reef,” the member said. The spot is a popular tourist sight seeing spot and tour organizers regularly take tourists over the coral colony in a glass bottom boat. The WWFJ has suggested that such tours be stopped as a precaution until the reason for the appearance of the seaweed can be found.

The Shiraho blue coral colony has been at the center of a controversy ever since the government decided to build a new Ishigaki Airport on its immediate vicinity. Several environmental groups have fought and protested the controversial project for years, and the schedule of the construction is still on hold after more than 20 years if wrangling.

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