The Ogasawara Islands were registered as a World Natural Heritage in 2011. It is a travel that takes 24 hours on a liner from Tokyo, but the islands that untouched nature still remain attract many foreign visitors. We’ll especially introduce whale watching among other attractions of Ogasawara Islands!
The Ogasawara Islands are located in the Pacific Ocean roughly 1,000 km south of Tokyo, consisting of more than 30 islands. In 2011, the islands were registered as a World Natural Heritage for the preciously unique creatures and abundant natural environment seen only in the region.
The Ogasawara Islands are comprised of four archipelagoes: Mukojima, Chichijima, Hahajima, and sulfur volcanic islands. These islands are dotted from 20°25′N to 27°44′N, and from 136°4′E to 153°59′E. It means the islands’ big contribution to the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Ogasawara belongs to Tokyo Prefecture and there are about 2,000 people living in Chichijima, and about 500 people in Hahajima. Agriculture and fishing are prospering business there.
You can go to the Ogasawara Islands from Tokyo, riding the liner ship called “Ogasawara maru” at Takeshiba Pier. It is approximately 24 hours from Takeshiba Pier to Chichijima. It takes a long time to get there, but that’s why there remain indigenous creatures and nature in the islands.
●Ogasawara Kaiun Co., Ltd.
●Fares and schedules may seasonally change. Check the website for details.
The Ogasawara Islands that were registered as the world's natural heritage sites, have many natural attractions such as the Minamijima and Meijima, mainly on Chichijima and Hahajima. Not only marine activities such as scuba diving, sea kayak, fishing, other activities in the ocean, and also trekking tour for uniquely evolved creatures and plants are popular among tourists.
As for the food, local cuisine such as “Shima Sushi,” made with pickled white fish in soy sauce and mirin (sweet sake), and “Akaba Miso Soup,” made with local fish called blacktip grouper are famous. Also, thanks to the subtropical climate, rum liquor of locally grown sugar cane and tropical fruits such as passion fruit, papaya, banana, and buntan (citrus pomelo) seem to be known among the sake lovers as the local specialties.
“Whale watching” is what we’d like to strongly recommend among other attractions in the islands. Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins and spinner dolphins can be seen throughout the year, and humpback whales emigrate from the northern sea around the end of December for breeding and child rearing. The Ogasawara Ocean is full of charm, which is no way inferior to the earth which has a lot of original nature.
You can watch whales from onshore and offshore in Ogasawara Islands. Several kinds of whales can be seen.
You may enjoy “humpback whales” breeding their babies and their active behavior.
“Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins” settle in the coastal area of Ogasawara.
“Spinner dolphins” are particularly popular because of their active motion such as riding a wave around the bow of a boat or spinning jumps.
“Sperm whales” can be seen around 10 to 30 km offshore. They are called “a champion of diving” for its boldness.
Furthermore, it may be possible to encounter pantropical spotted dolphins, short-finned pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins.
However, whale watching is a seasonal activity and you may watch different whales in each season. Also, keep in mind that whale watching may be dependent on the weather.
“Humpback whales” can be seen around from December to May. “Sperm whales” are seen throughout the year but it is difficult to watch them during winter because of unstable sea condition. “Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins” and “spinner dolphins” are slightly lower the chance to find in winter although they are seen throughout the year.
Although the Ogasawara Islands that can be seen whales from the land and ocean, how should each watching be done?
You can watch humpback whales and dolphins from watching points of the land such as “Weather Station Observatory” of Chichijima, and “Miyukinohama” “Samegasaki” of Hahajima. Especially in “Weather Station Observatory” of Chichijima, you can see around the west area of Chichijima archipelagos and may find humpback whales and sometimes dolphins during winter and spring. Also, it is a famous spot for beautiful sunset.
For offshore whale watching, use a whale watching tour that departs from “Futami port” of Chichijima or “Oki Port” of Hahajima.
There are half a day (about 3 hours) tour, one-day (7-8 hours) tour, and you can also charter a boat. For details, check the information on the Ogasawara Whale Watching Association website (http://www.owa1989.com/member/ship).
Ogasawara Whale Watching Association has been active to protect the marine environment as a paradise for whales and dolphins, and operating autonomous rules. When you enjoy whale watching, be sure to watch as you follow the instructions of the agents.
Information and photos by courtesy of “Ogasawara Whale Watching Association”
* The information is as of March 22, 2018. For details, please contact the facilities directly.
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