TOYAMA: Firefly squid spark battle for tourists
Three communities here are waging war. Their goal: More tourists. Their weapon: Firefly squid.
During spawning season, these strange sea creatures emit a lovely blue light that is visible at night. Around Toyama Bay, cities are keen to bolster a tourist trade featuring the tiny squid.
About 6 centimeters long, a firefly squid has about 1,000 light-emitting organs across its body. The eerie blue lights protect it from predators, say scientists.
The squid spawn in the millions near the surface of Toyama Bay each spring. They are easy to spot at night, and local fisheries have netted the tasty delicacies for centuries.
Namerikawa, with its tradition of firefly-squid catching, was the first town in the area to promote squid-viewing, officials say. Its tours date back to 1897, when groups of famous people recorded visits to the bay.
Now, nearby Imizu is elbowing in on Namerikawa's territory, with Uozu right behind.
Namerikawa's tours began in 1951, with three small sightseeing boats used at the peak spawning time from April to early May. In 1996, a record 3,717 people viewed the lights on 28 days.
Last year, 1,972 people joined the tours on 20 days....
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