Shiretoko, Japan

Steller's sea eagles, a threatened species, gather on sea ice at the Shiretoko Peninsula in Japan.
Kushiro Nature Conservation Office, Ministry of the Environment

The Shiretoko site in Japan was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2005. The site’s key feature is its exceptional productivity, largely resulting from the formation of relatively low-latitude seasonal sea ice, which feeds the growth of phytoplankton, the base of the marine food-web. Shiretoko is an important refuge for threatened seabirds (like the Steller's sea eagle, Haliaeetus pelagicus, pictured here), a number of salmonid species, and nearly 30 species of marine mammals, including Steller's sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) and sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus).

Today, over 40 World Heritage sites are listed for their marine values. Together, they can be considered the "Crown Jewels of our Ocean" and are recognized for their outstanding beauty, exceptional biodiversity, or unique ecological, biological, or geological processes. Learn more about this and other marine World Heritage sites.