Shiretoko Peninsula

Recently inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List.

From the Advisory Body Evaluation:
The Shiretoko peninsula was formed by volcanic activities and uplift from the Pacific Plate subducting under the North American Plate. The Peninsula comprises a number of volcanoes running along the centre of the peninsula and including the highest peak within the nominated property, Mount Rausu (1,661m). The coastlines on the east and west sides of the peninsula were formed by a combination of volcanic
activities, tectonic movement and marine erosion. For example, sea cliffs around Utoro range from 60m to 120m in height and were formed from andesitic lava
from the eruption of Mt Rausu 80,000 years ago and subsequent marine erosion.

The key feature of the property is the productivity of the marine and terrestrial ecosystem, reflecting the formation
of seasonal sea ice at the lowest latitude among the world’s seasonal sea ice in the northern hemisphere. The formation of the sea ice plays an integral role in the
formation of the phytoplankton which develops on the nutrients supplied by the sea ice. Blooms of ice algae and other phytoplankton occur earlier in spring as ice
melts faster than other sea ice areas. The phytoplankton is the primary producer in the marine ecosystem and provides the source of food for krill and zooplankton such as small shrimp, which in turn become food for small fish, crustacean and shellfish. These in turn become food sources for fish, marine mammals, such as seals and sea lions, as well as birds including the Steller’s sea eagle and the White-tailed eagle. In addition, salmon
and trout swim upstream to spawn and become an important food source for terrestrial species, including the brown bear and the Blakiston’s fish-owl.
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