Okinawa is home to ecologically significant coral reefs that support more than 1,000 species of reef fish, marine mammals, and sea turtles. Creatures like the highly imperiled dugong, a critically endangered and culturally treasured animal, rely on these reefs for their survival.
But the U.S. government is planning to build a new American military base atop a healthy coral reef that will likely destroy the diverse array of animal life the reef supports, including at least nine species threatened with extinction.
Construction of the offshore facility will devastate the marine environment and have dramatic consequences for oceangoing birds and coastal species as well, depleting essential freshwater supplies, increasing the human population in sensitive areas, and encouraging more environmentally harmful development.
Please take a minute to urge President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Ambassador to Japan John Roos to save Okinawa Dugong And Coral Reef Ecosystem.
The island of Okinawa has been called the "Galapagos of the East" because of the incredible variety of marine and terrestrial life it supports. Almost 400 types of coral form Okinawan reefs, which support more than 1,000 species of reef fish, marine mammals, and sea turtles. This incredible array of life makes the island second only to Australia's Great Barrier Reef in terms of marine biodiversity.
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Tragically, a military project being pushed by the U.S. and Japanese governments may doom a healthy reef, driving these magnificent species to extinction.
The current plan to construct a new American military base partially atop Henoko Reef in Okinawa would destroy a critically important coral reef that supports at least nine endangered species -- animals protected under American, Japanese, and international law.
Creatures like the highly imperiled dugong, a critically endangered and culturally treasured animal, rely on this habitat for their very survival. Japan's Mammalogical Society placed the dugong on its "Red List of Mammals" in 1997, estimating the population in Okinawa to be critically endangered. The U.S. government's Marine Mammals Commission also fears the project would be a serious threat to the animals' survival; the World Conservation Union's dugong specialists have expressed similar concerns.
Three types of endangered sea turtles -- the hawksbill, loggerhead, and green -- also depend on this ecosystem. All of these turtles, as well as the dugong, are listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Construction of the offshore facility will devastate the marine environment and have dramatic consequences for birds and other ocean-dependent species too. In addition to destroying the coral reef off the coast of Henoko village, this plan will deplete essential freshwater supplies and encourage more environmentally harmful development.
Okinawa's coral reefs are already threatened by global warming and pollution. More than half have disappeared over the past decade. This makes preserving the existing healthy reefs absolutely critical.
By reconsidering construction of this airbase, you can help ensure that Okinawa's treasures of the sea survive and thrive. Please put a halt to this shortsighted plan.