Vaulted to international stardom in the wake of Disney’s Finding Nemo, the colorful anemone-dwelling clownfish has grown to become one of the earth’s most recognizable marine creatures. Yet in the wake of widespread environmental damage spurred by rising ocean temperatures, the future of these dazzling fish rests in the hands of humanity.
Though current prospects may look grim for the clownfish, the Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island, Okinawa is one of many organizations dedicated to aiding the survival of these beloved fish. Working in tandem with the Marine Climate Change Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, the hotel launched the Seragaki Island Clownfish Restoration Project in June 2021, an ambitious program created to support the biodiversity of the archipelago’s crucial coral reefs.
“The clownfish, one of Okinawa’s most iconic fish, attracts many tourists each year,” says Timothy Ravasi, Professor at the OIST Marine Climate Change Unit. “Unfortunately, global climate change, coupled with the rapid urban development that Okinawa is experiencing, has reduced the natural habitat of the iconic clownfish, making it necessary to protect their populations in and around Okinawa.”
When it comes to safeguarding the future of the fish, the Marine Climate Change Unit has rolled out a particularly expansive array of programs. Beginning in the on-campus marine station, the group subjects their aquarium-raised clownfish to a wide array of tests, seeking to better understand how the animals will react to warming ocean temperatures in the future. Certain specimens are also released into the wild for further monitoring, while the unit also works closely with the Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island to educate both hotel guests and local students on the environmental issues that plague Japan’s clownfish today.
“Tourism is a major industry in Onna Village, which declared itself a ‘Coral Village’ in 2018 and is actively engaged in coral reef conservation and restoration activities,” says Murao Shigeki, General Manager of Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island, Okinawa. “Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island, Okinawa is proud to support the efforts of Onna Village and OIST in creating a sustainable village where the natural environment and local economy coexist in harmony, as well as emphasizing the importance of environmental conservation to our guests.”
The Clownfish Restoration Project can be experienced firsthand through the Clownfish Restoration Journey, a bookable experience available for guests at the Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island. Upon arrival, participants will take part in an educational seminar highlighting the biodiversity of the surrounding waters, then hop into the surf to get up close and personal with the fish. While this experience is only available at this particular property, it’s housed within the FIND portfolio, a curated collection of enriching experiences offered by World of Hyatt, with a picnic on the Danube river and a day spent off-roading across Java serving as a few other options.
While the Clownfish Restoration Project is a particularly fascinating concept for guests to witness firsthand, it’s far from the only activity to enjoy during a stay at the property. After a long day in the sun, the Spa Hanari is perfectly positioned for a holistic massage or diamond caviar facial, while there are six on-property drinking and dining venues awaiting guests during evening hours. Meanwhile, for any seasoned outdoor adventurers, the scenic Seragaki Beach is perfect for a kayaking session across the surf or a foray into the water to search for wildlife—and during a typical snorkeling excursion, there’s a lot more to see than just clownfish nestled in their anemones.
“When snorkeling around Seragaki, you may encounter sea turtles, damselfish, parrotfish, manybar goatfish, Moorish idol, Rhinecanthus aculeatus, porcupinefish, cuttlefish, giant clam, flounder, goby, poisonous anemone, poisonous sea urchin and stonefish,” says Shigeki. “This year, we were able to see a sea turtle spawning at the hotel beach for the first time since the opening in 2018.”