Video: Diving Okinawa; Coral Reefs & Mariculture Surprise

22 Apr, 2016

Okinawa, Japan is known for its great diving and lush coral reefs. Going into it, I didn’t know what to expect with this dive. I’ve heard all sorts of cautionary tales about diving in Okinawa due to its strong currents, but I’ve also heard that the quality of the reefs is practically unmatched.

The day of my scheduled dive was rough. It started raining heavily and that pretty much limited the dive locations that were available for safety reasons. The single dive location would be just off the coast of our hotel in the Manza Beach area of Onna-son. Onna is located in the central part of the island and is where most of the resort hotels are located. Luckily Manza Beach has a quiet bay area making this dive possible despite the weather.

The dive itself felt like a bit of an adventure right off the bat. There was an equipment failure where the airline connected to my BCD (the diving vest that holds the tank and manages buoyancy). The dive master and I had to quickly fix the issue under water. Although he didn’t really speak English and I didn’t really speak Japanese, under water we shared a common sign language. It’s amazing how much one can communicate without spoken language, and believe me, when there is a device failure underwater, there’s plenty to communicate.

The dive itself was amazing. There were tons of corals and fish, but I was surprised to see a huge field of Acropora that was all maricultured.

Seemingly endless fields of maricultured coral were a surprise find during this dive.

Seemingly endless fields of maricultured coral were a surprise find during this dive.

It felt like I was diving in an incredible frag tank. Never before had I seen this type of activity in a reef. Coral harvesting in Japan is illegal so all of it must have been a part of either a research program or a coral restoration program. It was definitely interesting to see and the results they are achieving are certainly impressive. The size and colors of the colonies were out of this world. [Editor’s note: this appears to be part of the Team Tyura Sango Coral Regeneration Project. You can see more on their Facebook Page; the homepage is in Japanese, and a brief back story of the area and it’s coral loss can be read at the Post Magazine]

I hope to one day return to Okinawa and do more dives. This was a very short trip and unfortunately this was the only dive I was able to schedule. More for next time!

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About the author

Than Thein
Than Thein

Than is the owner of Tidal Gardens and Advanced Reef Aquarium. Than's background is a mix of biology, computer science, business, and law. However, the reef aquarium hobby eventually led him away from a suit and tie corner-office job to pursuing his passion growing coral and shooting underwater videos.

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