【Series】 Spirits of the Kamuy landscape
In this series, the transformation of four seasons will be introduced through articles on wild animals that are active in the deep forests, marshes, and ocean as if they were being cradled by “Kamui,” which means deity in the Ainu language. The first installment in the series is the Yezo sika deer of Notsuke Peninsula. (Text and photographs by Tadanobu Shigeru from the Kushiro Branch News Secti
【Series】 Spirits of the Kamuy landscape (39) Tens of thousands of short-tailed shearwaters gather in search of krill
Summer comes late to the Shiretoko Mountain Range, where snow still remains. Tens of thousands of short-tailed shearwaters form large flocks on the surface of the sea off the coast of Utoro in the town of Shari in the Okhotsk region of eastern Hokkaido.
Short-tailed shearwaters migrate from their breeding grounds in southeastern Australia. They are migratory birds that fly long distances, covering more than 30,000 km per year between the northern and southern hemispheres. They feed on zooplankton in the sea, following shoals of fish and diving into the sea to prey on krill that float near the water’s surface.
The plankton is targeted by fish from below and the birds from above, and makes the sea look pink as it increases in density. Marine mammals such as whales can also be seen in the vicinity, swallowing large volumes of plankton. In no time, the nearby waters have become a creature’s paradise. At peak times, hundreds of thousands of short-tailed shearwaters fly to Shiretoko, where a diverse ecosystem interweaves with the abundant sea.
(Photo and words: Shigeru Tadanobu)