Ariake Sea: Japan’s Largest Tidal Wetlands
The Ariake Sea can drop as much as six meters when the tide flows out, giving it the largest tidal difference in Japan. At low tide, the sea retreats to expose mudflats that extend for five to seven kilometers to the open water. At 188 square kilometers in area, it accounts for some 40% of the total wetlands in Japan.
In addition to its impressive tidal swings, the Ariake Sea has other unique environmental aspects, including changes in the volume of incoming water and salt concentrations along with diverse lifeforms like mudskippers that have adapted to this particular environment.
The sea’s Higashiyoka and Hizenkashima tidal flats are among the foremost wintering sites in Japan for migrating waterfowl, including several endangered species.
(Banner photo: Mudskippers live in the Ariake Sea mudflats. Information courtesy of the Saga Prefectural Tourism Federation.)