Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park has Japan's largest mangrove forest as well as the largest community of blue coral in the Northern Hemisphere. The islands the park encompasses feature coastal forests with vegetation such as beach hibiscus, screw pine and the endemic Yaeyama palm tree. These environments attract a fascinating array of creatures, which include crested serpent eagles, yellow-margined box turtles and reef manta rays. There are also species that live only on the park's islands, such as the Iriomote wildcat. Kishinoue's giant skink, meanwhile, is only found on the park's Yaeyama Islands, and Yonaguni Island, which is outside the park.
Mangrove forests arise in areas where seawater and freshwater mix, and are unique to subtropical climates. The mangrove forests in Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park are primarily combinations of black mangrove and loop-root mangrove. Nakama River on Iriomote island has the largest mangrove forest in Japan.
Reef Manta Ray
(Manta alfredi) is one of the world's largest ray species. The reef manta ray swims in tropical and subtropical waters worldwide, and is often spotted in the waters around the Yaeyama Islands.
The Iriomote wildcat (Prionailurus bengalensis iriomotensis) was discovered in 1965. It is a subspecies of the leopard cat that lives exclusively on Iriomote Island. There are only about 100 Iriomote wildcats, making this creature a critically endangered species.