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Activists call for dugong protection, halt of Okinawa base construction

Activists are rallying Monday in San Francisco to protest the construction of a U.S. military base in Japan that they say threatens the Okinawa dugong, an endangered marine mammal.

The protest is taking place outside the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where a hearing is set for a lawsuit challenging the air base development in Okinawa.

The Turtle Island Restoration Network and The Center for Biological Diversity are suing the Department of Defense, maintaining that the base’s construction will pave over and fill in hundreds of acres of coral and seagrass habitat crucial to the Okinawa dugong.

Christian Haugen/Flickr Activists held a rally in San Francisco Monday, February 3, 2020 to protest a U.S. military base construction in Okinawa, Japan that they say threatens endangered dugong.

Scientists estimate there are fewer than 50 Okinawa dugong left, said Stepph Sharpe, development manager at Turtle Island Restoration Network.

The rally was set to begin at 11 a.m. Monday at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Courthouse, 95 Seventh St.

Dugongs, related to manatees, are long-lived and can grow to nearly 1,000 pounds.

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