The unique ecology of
Inhabited by land and marine life.
Mangrove forest is home to terrestrial and marine animals. These animals play an important role in forming the mangrove ecosystem.
The vast tidal flat that is exposed at low tide is a paradise for the Shiomaneki (Fiddler crab), the Minami Kometsukigani (Soldier crab), the Nokogiri Gazami (Mangrove crab), and many other creatures.
Ryukyu Ayu (Ayu fish)
The Ryukyu Ayu belongs to the subspecies of Ayu which is generally smaller than the Ayu and has a different shaped dorsal fin. In the past the Ryukyu Ayu could also be found in Okinawa, but sadly, it has now become extinct within that region. Amami Oshima is now the only place in the world where you can see the Ryukyu Ayu.
Young Ryukyu Ayus live at the base of the mangrove's respiratory root. Roots, like a wicker basket, are a hideout for young Ryukyu Ayu and a place to protect themselves from other birds and fish.
Minami Kometsukigani (Soldier crab)
This crab can be found south of Tanegashima, likes a tidal flat that is close to the sea and has fine sand grains. They are active at low tide and usually stay in a large group. They feed by filtering sand through their mouthparts, and consuming the organic matter contained in it, leaving behind balls of sand that are disintegrated by the incoming high tide.
If they feel in danger they will bury themselves in the sand twisting their bodies into a spiral shape. In addition, whilst they are a type of "crab", they do not walk "sideways" but, in fact, walk "straight".
Shiomaneki (Fiddler crab)
The official name is the “Okinawa Hakusen Shiomaneki”. When the tide is low Fiddler crabs come onto the land from their burrow by opening the entrance that is blocked by mud. Their bait is organic matter and microalgae distributed on the surface of the sand and mud bottoms.
The male crab has one set of large pincers and one small, but only the small pincers are used to eat, while the female only has small pincers so can use both.
Nokogiri Gazami (Mangrove crab)
This crab lives in the brackish sand mud area of the estuary and inner bay. The amount of Nokogiri Gazami in an area is consistent with the population of Mangroves. They are said to be part of the “Mangrove club”. The Mangrove river’s gentle current is a perfect habitat for the Nokogiri Gazami to make its burrows. The width of its instep is 15-20cm, and a mature male’s large pincers makes up half of its total body weight.
The large pincers have a molar shape and are suitable for crushing hard shells. They are used to eat shellfish, crabs and fish.
Minami Tobihaze (Barred mudskipper)
When the tidal flat is formed, the Minami Tobihaze with its cute face moves to the shore, clinging to the roots of the mangroves, and keeping its head above the surface.
Once out of the water most fish would die, but the Minami Tobihaze can store water in its mouth and breathe oxygen dissolved in the water from its gills.
Ryukyu Konohazuku (Ryukyu scops owl)
It is a bird that lives in the forests of Amami Oshima and the Ryukyu Islands. In the daytime, it stays on the tree and mimics a branch, and at night they begin to move about in search of food such as insects and small animals.
The males call is said to sound like “Kohokkoho” whereas the females make a “Myaumyau” sound. From spring to autumn, at night, you can hear the chorus of Ryukyu Konohazuku.
They’re currently designated as a semi-endangered species.
The Amami rabbit
Featuring short ears and legs, and a brown somewhat stubby but cute figure, the Amami Rabbit was designated as the first natural monument for Japanese animals in 1921, and in 1963 as a “special” natural monument.
Amami rabbits have evolved in an isolated environment since ancient times, and are also called “living fossils”.
It currently inhabits only Amami Oshima and Tokunoshima and has been designated as an endangered species.
The Black heron
Despite its name, the Black heron is actually white. It’s confusing but the black heron that can be seen in Mangrove Park is a variant called the white type.
It is said that it has adapted to the white sand beaches of the southern islands, but it stands out conspicuously in the green of the mangrove forest.