The Island's Natural Environment
The area between Ishigaki Island and Iriomote Island is called Sekisei Reef, and it covers 20 km east to west, and 15 km north to south. With an enormous diversity of coral and fish, it is a world-renowned reef. Four particularly clear and beautiful areas have been designated as sea parks. Additionally, both Taketomi and Kuroshima, are formed on ancient coral reefs.
Iriomote Ishigaki National Park is the southernmost national park in Japan.
It is about 1200 km from Kagoshima and 430 km from the main island of Okinawa and includes Iriomote, its outlying islands, and the sea surrounding it.
On Iriomote Island, you can find subtropical plants such as chinquapin trees and Tabunoki, and can also see magnificent mangrove trees around estuaries. Around 80% of the island is covered with forests. Diverse with flora and fauna, the island forms a unique ecosystem.
Descended from cats that crossed over from Asia when the island was still connected by land, the Iriomote wildcat (Iriomote yamaneko) has evolved distinctly from anyother cats. It is so rare that it was not acknowledged as a species until 1965. In addition, since the island is located close to Taiwan and the Philippines, Southeast Asian species, such as the yellow-margined box turtle (semaru-hakogame) and the crested serpent eagle (kanmuri-washi), can be found here.
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