Research on Biodiversity of the Arao Tidal Flat and Outreach Programs
The Arao Tidal Flat is a registered Ramsar wetland. Activities are undertaken there while observing Ramsar Convention’s philosophy on conservation and sustainable use of natural resources and CEPA. The students conduct research on microplastics by continuously monitoring crabs and clams in the tidal flat.
When the Arao Tidal Flat became a registered Ramsar wetland in July 2012, the science club at the high school began studying the Ramsar Convention’s philosophy on conservation and sustainable use of natural resources and CEPA, thought about what they could do to contribute, and began monitoring and conducting research of the Arao Tidal Flat.
As part of their research on biodiversity of the Arao Tidal Flat and outreach programs, last year they conducted a study on benthos and plastics in the saline wetland. They observed 12 benthic species (such as crabs and clams), of which 8 were unique to mud swamps/reed beds. And 9 species, including 4 endangered species were on the red list. In every area that they surveyed, they sifted through the sediment and discovered plastic particles. This fiscal year, the students looked into how much plastic waste from the ocean washed ashore onto the saline wetland in a month and the concentration of microplastics in the sediment. The stomach contents of the superterrestrial helice triden crabs also contained microplastics.
With respect to outreach programs, every year the students take part as volunteers in the Arao Tidal Flat Day, Organism Observation organized by the Council that Promotes the Conservation and Effective Use of Arao Tidal Flat. Working with children and their parents, they collect and name the different benthic species. The volunteers also serve as teachers for the Taishi Academy organized by the Arao City Board of Education, which is held for grade school students in a high school during their summer break.
Last August, they organized a summer camp at the Arao Tidal Flat with the “Kujyu Furusato Exploration Club” that is active in the Tadewara Marsh in Oita Prefecture. And in September, they took part as volunteer staff in the Benthos Observation Division of the “KODOMO Ramsar Wetland Exchange in the Arao Tidal Flat.”
The students take part in these activities together with the Arao Fishery Cooperative Associations and organizations that promote the conservation and sustainable use of the Arao Tidal Flat. The high school students enjoy working in the Arao Tidal Flat. The science club has recorded 186 benthic species so far and are entertaining grade school, kindergarten, and preschool students by sharing their knowledge.