Maintenance window scheduled to begin at February 14th 2200 est. until 0400 est. February 15th


Forgot Password?

    Defense Visual Information Distribution Service Logo



    Photo By Yoshie Makiyama | The participants posed for the photo.... read more read more



    Story by Yoshie Makiyama 

    Marine Corps Installations Pacific

    On Aug. 13, 2021, an underwater volcano located about 50 kilometers south of Iwo Jima erupted. Ever since, a series of pumice stones have drifted to the shores of Okinawa.

    The news of the floating pumice stones was a common topic shown on Japanese media. The condition of the beaches, ports, and even outer sea were reported on almost every day as concerns for the environmental impact grew.

    At the zenith of it, pumice covered the surface of the ocean and there were concerns about the negative effect on the coral due to the lack of sunlight and potential damage to fishing boats. Local wildlife were also affected by the pumice as the stones made it difficult to burrow into the sand on the beach and an endangered green sea turtle was found having ingested approximately 100 of the stones.

    However, as time went by, the heat of the news died down gradually. It was as if the pumice stone had all but gone.

    On March 5, a large crowd gathered at Maeda Fishing Port located in Onna Village—including 15 Marines from the Camp Hansen Single Marine Program—to participate in Japan's Coral Day as part of the Village's Save the Coral Project.

    Coral Day, or "Sango Day," is a special day which World Wide Fund for Nature Japan created in 1996 to raise awareness of coral conservation and cultivation.

    The Save the Coral Project's goal is to create a natural, environmentally friendly community where the authorities, residents and commercial sector work together to build a society capable of sustainable development with a low environmental impact.

    This year, over 400 people participated in this project. The project consisted of three activities: planting coral seedlings off Maeda Fishing Port, planting trees at Ukaji district agricultural land, and cleaning two beaches.

    At the opening ceremony, officials greeted participants from various groups and organizations. One of the greeters, Peter Gruss, president and chief executive officer from Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University in Onna, described this day as not just about the coral but a symbol for working together on sustainable development goals to save the planet.

    "I informed the Marines of today's events using various methods, such as flyers and bulletin boards," said Jason Oliver, the coordinator of SMP. "I knew it was about the Coral Day project the Village hosts to save corals. We were ready for any opportunity."

    Once each participant and group was assigned to four areas, Marines hopped in the van and moved to their destination, Kuraha Beach also known as Malibu beach, a few minutes away from the port.

    Village officials and volunteers guided people to the beach entrance and handed out dustpans, tongs, gloves, plastic bags, and sacks. The equipment was provided for trash pick-up and pumice stone collection.

    "I expected to pick up trash," said Lance Cpl. Brittney Riggins, a motor transport operator with 3d Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division while she was shaking the dustpan to separate pumice stones from sand. "Either way, it's good for the environment. I can help save the coral and lives live on the beach, such as crabs and turtles. I am glad I came."

    Some Marines went to the area with larger stones. Some went to the area where the ground was gray with fine pumice stones. They dug the beach deeper but gray stone still covered the original beach sand.

    Lance Cpl. Quentin Pham, an electrician from 9th Engineer Battalion, 3d Marine Logistics Group, had heard the news of the pumice stones. "I often dive and enjoy seeing the coral, so I wanted to do what I can to save them," explaining the reason he joined beach cleaning.

    "It seems endless, but as long as we do a small thing, such as picking up stones, potentially helping the wild lives and coral leaves," Cpl. Fernando Chischilly, an electrician with Combat Logistics Regiment 3, 3d MLG, who was collecting pumice stones with Pham, said. "A small thing goes a long way."

    Onna village scheduled a cleanup for one hour. When they notified participants the time to finish, Marines started working even more vigorously. They all seemed reluctant to stop.

    After having a once in a lifetime experience at the Okinawan beach, Lance Cpl. Joseph Lamanna from California, High Mobility Artillery Rocket System operator with 3d Battalion, 12th Marines, smiled and said, "Today was the most fun I have had in a while. I really like helping out."

    Kaori Toyama, planning section chief of Onna Village Office, appreciated Marines' participation in the event since cleaning up pumice is quite hard work. According to her, pumice stone has been drifting to the village since the middle to end of last October. The amount reached to the shore varied day by day but it lasted for a long time. Even though pumice stone crumbled and washed away, it still comes to the village coastline when the north wind blows.

    "A lot of Marines are learning about this pumice stone problem for the first time. They haven't experienced this kind of natural disaster before, it gives them a chance to learn how such problems affect the ecosystem, like turtle laying eggs, and how it affects the community around, such as views on the beach which is part of Okinawan major tourism industry" Oliver stated. "It's a learning experience and it's a volunteer opportunity. I hope we can do another one."





     3月5日、恩納村の真栄田漁港に、キャンプ・ハンセンからシングル・マリン・プログラム(通称SMP)の海兵隊員15名を含む大勢の人が「恩納村Save The Coral(サンゴを守ろう)プロジェクト」の一環である同村恒例の「サンゴの日」イベントに参加した。


     「恩納村Save The Coral プロジェクト」は、自然環境に配慮した地域づくりを目指し、行政・住民・事業者が一体となって、環境負荷の少ない持続的発展が可能な社会を構築することを目的としている。
















    Date Taken: 05.09.2022
    Date Posted: 05.26.2022 23:23
    Story ID: 421562
    Location: OKINAWA, JP

    Web Views: 188
    Downloads: 0