Leap in dolphin sightings in Mutsu Bay in Japan
A SURGE of dolphin sightings have been logged at Mutsu Bay from ferries this season, boosting the area's reputation as an easily accessible spot to get a glimpse of the friendly mammals.
Dolphins appear in the area every year from mid-April through June but unusually large numbers have been observed this year.
There was even a day when about 200 dolphins were confirmed in sightings from ferries.
Locals expect the news to trigger a tourism boom, given that the Hokkaido Shinkan-sen bullet train line also began operating in March.
The dolphins observed in the bay are small Pacific white-sided types, which are usually found in cool waters.
According to Mutsu Bay Ferry, which operates between the Tsugaru and Shimokita peninsulas on either side of the bay, dolphin-watching has been taking place from almost 90 per cent of ferries since May.
This is about twice the rate of a typical year.
As awareness spread online and through word of mouth about the unusually high chance of encountering dolphins, there has been a rise in passengers taking the ferries, the company said.
According to Aomori University Professor Shigeto Ki-yokawa, who studies dolphins inhabiting Mutsu Bay, the mammals that stop by the bay - which is sheltered from large waves - are on their way north to pursue sardine shoals.
THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN/
ASIA NEWS NETWORK