© Roberto Sozzani

So what does a dugong do? Not much, except wander coastal areas from the east coast of Africa to Australia, and beyond, grazing on the seagrass of coral reefs.

Dugongs living on the coast of Japan's Okinawa island are threatened by the proposed expansion of a U.S. military base there. Construction of the airbase would destroy local coral reefs, the habitat of the dugong, and thousands of other creatures, including three species of threatened turtle.

Time is short, but we can still stop the airbase - throughout September, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the airbase site is open for public comment. We're using this opportunity to let the Japanese government know what the people of the world think - by delivering a petition of thousands of names to the environment and defence ministries, and calling on the government to establish a marine reserve in the area.

This wouldn't be the first time that construction at Henoko, in north-eastern Okinawa, has been stopped. In 2005, after a sustained protest by local people, and following the arrival of the Rainbow Warrior, plans for an airbase was shelved. If the military machine can be stopped once - through the voice of thousands worldwide, and through peaceful protest in Okinawa, then it can be stopped again.

You know what to do:

Call on the Japanese government to save the dugong and stop the expansion of the military base in Okinawa »


01 March 2005: Save the dugong - stop the US airbase »

10 March 2005: Greenpeace joins local activists to occupy test drilling platforms in an area where a proposed American military base would be built across important dugong habitat. »

12 March 2005: Greenpeace calls for dugong rescue in Japan »

National Geographic: Rare Japanese Dugong Threatened by U.S. Military Base »