Ryukyu islands (south of Japan)

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Ryukyu islands (south of Japan)

Postby Guillaume Gomard » Mon Dec 27, 2010 4:07 pm

I recently made a trip to the Ryukyu islands, located close to Taiwan. Even if I was not there for holidays, I had the occasion to encounter some interesting animals and to enjoy the luxurious vegetation of this place. The average temperature in the afternoon was about 25°C (subtropical climate zone). Those islands are also renowned for their coral reefs which are the home of clownfish and manta ray, among others.

Landscape close to the coral reefs:
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Close-up of a hermit crab on the beach:
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During the night, it is very common to find Hemidactylus frenatus in the inhabited areas. The street lamps are attracting many insects (e.g moths) and consequently house geckos which are feeding on them. H. frenatus are mainly nocturnal but it is not impossible to find them during the day in hidden places.

Here are some portraits of Hemidactylus frenatus taken in the morning:
Hemidactylus frenatus1.JPG

Hemidactylus frenatus2.JPG

Hemidactylus frenatus3.JPG

Hemidactylus frenatus4.JPG


During my stay, I also walked (or more appropriately, tried to walk) in a mangrove. Indeed, it is pretty difficult to penetrate in this biotope since one literally sinks into the mud. A striking detail was the presence of hundreds of holes in the ground created by crabs.


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I then decided to enter into a subtropical forest where I found several insects after flipping some rocks:

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Giant vinegarroon (Mastigoproctus giganteus)
Mastigoproctus giganteus.JPG


A mygalomorph Atypus karschi (?)
Atypus karschi.JPG


A full grown and very fast Scolopendra subspinipes trying to bite my wood stick while I was taking pictures:
Scolopendra subspinipes.JPG


In a village from the same area, I also met the introduced squirrel monkeys which are actually coming from South America:

squirrel monkeys.JPG

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squirrel monkeys3.JPG


Finally, I'd like to share some pictures I made in the mountain overhanging the island. As you can see, the forest was very dense (and as you can imagine, the humidity was very very high -for a European herper, at least- ;) ):

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A 15cm long millipede:
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Plestiodon sp. in the background:
Plestiodon.JPG
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Other reptiles seen (but unfortunately missed):

- Japalura polygonata ishigakiensis, close to the beaches
- The infamous Protobothrops elegans , close to the mountains (locally known as "habu snake", exploited and killed for touristic purposes. Cf for instance http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOXPyMBD1cM or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSWYqhrVWA0)
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Re: Ryukyu islands (south of Japan)

Postby Daniel Kane » Mon Dec 27, 2010 11:33 pm

Nice little summary of a place it seems not too often visited by people from this part of the world. That Scolopendra photo is pretty good! Nice one Guillaume.
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Re: Ryukyu islands (south of Japan)

Postby Jimmy Lundqvist » Tue Dec 28, 2010 9:23 pm

Great pics! Lovely to see some exotic places. Ryu Kyu must be a herpers paradise.
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Re: Ryukyu islands (south of Japan)

Postby Guillaume Gomard » Wed Dec 29, 2010 10:20 am

Ryu Kyu must be a herpers paradise


Indeed! I wish I had more free time to explore the island and to photograph some snakes. Here is a link with the species you can find in Japan (not restricted to the Okinawa islands): http://homepage3.nifty.com/japrep/snake/ejaphebi.htm
It is also a diving paradise and a very good place for those interested in insects in general (in the forest, you are almost sure to find something after flipping 2-3 rocks).
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