With a strong push for economic growth and infrastructure development, China and South Korea are rushing to convert the Yellow Sea’s mudflats to ports, industrial complexes, aquaculture enclosures, and residences. The mudflats, a critical staging site for shorebirds for thousands of years, are now disappering quickly.
Photograph by Ju Yung Ki
By the time this dunlin arrived in South Korea’s Saemangeum estuary, the tidal flats were gone, transformed into a vast stretch of desert by a seawall that was built to keep out the water. Researchers and conservationists are racing to prevent similar large-scale disasters elsewhere in the Yellow Sea, where millions of migrating birds stop over, even as its mudflats continue to be filled in for development.