• Kyodo

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Sightseeing icebreakers began operating Saturday from their bases in the Hokkaido ports of Abashiri and Obihiro, showing tourists drift ice in the Sea of Okhotsk, vessel operators said.

491-ton icebreaker Aurora left Abashiri in the morning with the season’s first 230 passengers aboard, including students on a school excursion from Oi High School in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Passengers saw a sea eagle and a sea lion during their voyage.

The number of passengers on the Abashiri icebreaker has increased steadily since its first voyage in 1991. It attracted a record 176,000 passengers last season, including groups of tourists from Taiwan and Hong Kong.

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