Should the Senkaku Islands be designated as a nature reserve?
Seeing that they've been in the news, I Google Earth'd over to the Senkaku (or Diaoyu) Islands. Not, of course, with the aim of stoking controversy, but just to see if there was any climbing potential. Which is rather poor, I'm sorry to report. Although the islets rise with promising steepness out of the ocean, the cliffs look loose and vegetated.
Besides, would-be climbers might disturb the short-tailed albatrosses (Phoebastria albatrus) that live there. In Japanese, this engaging bird is known as the "ahō-dori" ('foolish fowl'), a name that refers to its habit of letting people walk right up to it. In return for this trust in human nature, it was hunted almost to extinction in the nineteenth century.
Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs long ago declared Torishima and the "ahō-dori" itself to be 'natural monuments'. Surprisingly, though, this distinction has so far eluded Minami-kojima, the bird's only other breeding ground. Now there's an idea. Perhaps it's time that the Senkaku Islands were designated a special natural monument or even a national park ...