Rich Ecosystem Created by Ice Flows
In winter, ice flows reach the shores of the Shiretoko Peninsula, making it the southernmost point in the northern hemisphere where sea ice forms.
The ice flows bring nutrients, and these nourish the plankton (microscopic organisms that drift in the ocean), which are in turn eaten by small fish. These fish are food for whales, dolphins, seals, Steller's sea lions, and other sea creatures and sea birds that make up this vast, rich ocean environment.
The salmon and trout of Shiretoko store up ocean nutrients so that they can migrate up the rivers where they came from in order to spawn. Along the way, these fish are a valuable food source for land animals and birds like brown bears and white-tailed sea eagles. The carcasses and feces of animals are returned to the soil, where they nourish vegetation and give rise to the forests of Shiretoko. Leaves fall and trees wither and die, they too returning to the soil and eventually being carried by rain or melting snow to rivers and then to the ocean, where they nourish the creatures of the sea.
The land and sea creatures of Shiretoko continue in an endless circle of life that has given birth to the lush and plentiful eco systems of this peninsula.
The virtuous circle of life between land and sea creatures
Rare Flora and Fauna Abound in a Diverse Natural Environment
Shiretoko is a long peninsula that stretches about 70 kilometers lengthwise and is between 20 and 40 kilometers wide. Running down the middle like a spine is a magnificent mountain range with peaks 1,200 to 1,600 meters high. This combination gives precipitous terrain from mountain to ocean and provides a range of nature.
The land and ocean of Shiretoko are joined by 77 narrow, rapidly flowing rivers. These rivers function like giant arteries that help circulate the nutrients of the food chain.
The diverse natural environment and rich food sources are like a treasure chest for the flora and fauna of Shiretoko. The peninsula is home to a vast range of plant and animal life, including endangered species like Blackiston's fish owl and Shiretoko violets.
Wild animals of Shiretoko
Wild plants of Shiretoko
Note: The photos on this website are courtesy of the Shiretoko Nature Foundation.