JDF JapanDefenseFocus No.61

~Scenery of Japan~ Shiretoko Peninsula

Shiretoko Peninsula

Shiretoko Peninsula, loosely translated to “end of earth” in Ainu language spoken by indigenous people resided in Hokkaido, is located in the northeast of Hokkaido, protruding into the Sea of Okhotsk. The site boasts about one of the richest integrated ecosystems in the world, represented by the interaction of marine and terrestrial ecosystems as well as extraordinary ecosystem productivity largely influenced by the formation of seasonal sea drift ice formed at the lowest latitude in the Northern Hemisphere. Sea ice, as shown in the picture, is formed every winter and slowly drifts with winds and sea currents. By around the end of January, it reaches the coast of Shiretoko and gradually fills the Okhotsk sea.

MSDF Fleet Air Wing 2, situated in Aomori Prefecture, fly its P-3C aircraft every winter to carry out observation activities of the sea ice and provide the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) with data collected from those flights, for the purpose of preventing maritime accidents. At the request of the JMA, MSDF has conducted such activities since 1960, and the number of the observation flight has reached more than 1,000 times.

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