Diving Okinawa - well, not exactly...

I’m currently on a two-week dive trip to Okinawa, Japan - but typhoons and tropical storms are making things very difficult. After being here almost a week, I have only managed three dives...

Posted on Oct 6, 2013

The weather was fine when we arrived in Okinawa on October 1st, but things quickly deteriorated: The tropical cyclone (or typhoon as they are known in this part of the world) Fitow was headed our way.

The forecast promised winds in excess of 160 mph, torrential rainfall and flood surge. Not exactly what we bargained for...

Typhoon Fitow looked quite menacing, but actually passed without causing too much trouble. It did mean diving was off, however!

We managed to squeeze in one diving day with Marine House Seasir to the Kerama Islands before the wind started to pick up, and have spent they days since in the hotel.

The Kerama Islands offered beautiful scenery and interesting coral reefs, although we had to dive on the inside of the islands which is less attractive than the outside.

A beautifully patterned juvenile angelfish - a picture I have been wanting to shoot for a long time.

The coral reefs were in good shape, and boasted an abundance of colorful, tropical fish. We saw few nudibranchs and crustaceans, but were assured that other places had more to offer both in terms of macro life and wide-angle scenery.

Among the highlights were leaf and devil scorpionfish, huge sea cucumbers (unfortunately without any crustacean passengers), and a banded sea crate.

Visit to the Shuri castle

Before diving, we made a little excursion to the Shuri castle in Naha, which was a spectacular sight. Built in the 13 century, it was used to welcome Japanese and Chinese royalty and dignitaries to the kingdom of Ryuyku.

The Churaumi Aquarium

We had also made plans to visit Okinawa’s famous aquarium, which is one of the biggest in the world. The main tank holds 1.98 millon gallons of water and Churaumi is the only aquarium in the world to have multiple whalesharks.

This turned ouy to be very impossible: The aquarium had closed down, the highway was not open and the rental car company would not let us have a car anyway.

Image courtesy of Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium.

Normally I’m not a big fan of large animals being held captive, but Churaumi is doing some very interesting research into whaleshark reproduction and I was curious to learn more. The aquarium is the only one in the world where they have bred manta rays in captivity (currently four babies have been born).

A second typhoon is coming

Typhoon Fitow was supposed to hit us with full force on Saturday October 4th, but it seems that the projected track was not perfectly accurate and the eye missed us by 200 miles. We saw strong winds and heavy rain, but nothing more than bad weather, really.

Still, the airport was closed down, along with the bus service and most restaurants and shops. The fishing boats in the harbour were tide up pretty good, too - the ropes going across the water also perhaps acting to keep the water calm.

Our planned dive trip to the Aka Islands was cancelled, but we’re still hoping that the second leg of the journey will work out as planned.

We’re supposed to visit the island of Yonaguni and dive the world famous underwater monument - but then we had some more bad news... There is another storm coming!

Danas was originally designated a depression, then grew into a tropical storm yesterday. It’s heading straight for us and is expected to reach typhoon strength tomorrow. Nahe is straight in it’s path and the local weather service says it will hit a lot harder than Fitow did, even though windspeeds are lower.

We’ll hunker down and see what happens. Hopefully iy passes quickly and we’ll be able to get some more time in the water. Okinawa supposedly offeres really great diving - I just really hope we get to see it before we have to go home...

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Christian Skauge
Etterstadsletta 4 G
N-0660 Oslo, Norway


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