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Satellite imagery has suggested that the number of endangered albatrosses may be increasing on one of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, the Environment Ministry said recently.

The imagery from November showed some 110 to 140 pairs of albatrosses on Minamikojima, up from some 50 pairs found during an on-site inspection in 2002, the ministry said.

The ministry’s first survey on albatrosses on the Senkakus using satellite imagery covered Minamikojima and Kitakojima. Albatrosses had previously been confirmed on both of the islands.

The ministry will conduct a similar survey on Kitakojima in the current fiscal year, as the island was covered with clouds in the November imagery.

Albatrosses are distributed widely across the North Pacific, but their breeding areas are limited to the Senkakus, the Izu island chain and other remote islands off Japan.

The Senkakus are administrated by Japan but also claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu.

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