The Center is working with a coalition of Japanese conservation groups to protect the habitat of the dugong, a saltwater manatee-like creature that inhabits shallow water off Okinawa. The remaining population of about 50 Okinawan dugongs is threatened with extinction by U.S. military plans to construct a new airbase atop a coral reef near Henoko, on the east coast of Okinawa — the dugong’s primary habitat. To save what’s left of this gentle mammal’s home, we helped organize an international coalition, focus international opposition to the base, and file a lawsuit challenging base construction.


Okinawa has been called “the Galapagos of the East” because it supports a dizzying variety of marine species. In terms of ecological diversity, Okinawa’s coral reefs rank behind only Australia's Great Barrier Reef, sustaining more than 1,000 types of fish and a host of other spectacular wildlife. The Center is working to protect imperiled marine species such as the dugong and imperiled sea turtles — as well as Okinawa’s coral reef habitat — from U.S. military activities. We’re also working to save the ecologically significant Yanbaru forest, which is habitat for extremely rare birds such as the Okinawa woodpecker and Okinawa rail.


Black-footed albatross
Green sea turtle
Hawksbill sea turtle
Loggerhead sea turtle
Okinawa dugong
Okinawa rail
Okinawa woodpecker

Contact: Jacki Lopez

Photo courtesy Flickr Commons/Peter Nijenhuis