Shiretoko

Outstanding Universal Value

(ix) Ecosystem
Productive interaction between terrestrial and marine ecosystems with unique sea ice characteristics
(x) Biodiversity
Important area for maintaining the biodiversity due to the fact that northern and southern species coexist, and as a result a wide range of fauna and flora that include many rare and endemic species live here

The Sea Ice Sustains an Abundance of Life

The coastal areas of Shiretoko in the Sea of Okhotsk are located in the lowest latitude in the world where sea ice can form. The formation of sea ice promotes upwards and downwards convection in the ocean water by cooling the surface layer of ocean water, which raises the nutritive salts that accumulate at the lower levels of the sea up to the surface level. Once spring arrives, the surface layer is bathed in enough sunlight for photosynthesis, and phytoplankton proliferates explosively using nutritive salts. The vast quantities of plankton produced in this way form the starting point for the food chain that sustains the rich ecosystems of Shiretoko, linking the ocean, rivers and forests.

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The Sea Ice Sustains an Abundance of Life

Life Supported by Integrated Ecosystems of Ocean, Rivers, and Forests

The ocean of Shiretoko fosters marine life such as plankton, fish, seabirds, dolphins and whales. Salmon species such as chum salmon and pink salmon swim upstream from the ocean and serve as an important food source for brown bears and birds of prey. Fish that remain partially uneaten also provide food for animals like foxes, before finally being returned to the soil where they provide nourishment for the forests. In this manner, a dynamic food web that encompasses the ocean, rivers, and land has formed in Shiretoko. Moreover, at Shiretoko, northern and southern species coexist and intimately interact one another to form a rich ecosystem. It is also a crucial habitat for the survival of globally endangered birds, such as Blakiston's fish-owls, Steller's sea eagles, and white-tailed eagles.

Life Supported by Integrated Ecosystems of Ocean, Rivers, and Forests

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