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“Invisible Connections” highlights importance of threatened Yellow Sea habitats


A new and stunning book was published by Wetlands International on intertidal mudflats of the Yellow Sea, which are under critical threat by unsustainable development. The book offers a wonderful photographic journey that follows the migration of shorebirds flying from their breeding grounds in the Arctic through East Asia to Australia.

The book demonstrates the beauty and importance of the site and its birds, and highlights the importance of its conservation and sustainable use. The title says it all: Invisible Connections. Why migrating shorebirds need the Yellow Sea.

Coastal ecosystem

The Yellow Sea between China and Korea is one of the most important coastal wetland ecosystems in the world for people and biodiversity. As a stop over and refueling site for migratory birds in the East Asian – Australasian Flyway, this site is unsurpassed in importance. Over 50 million migratory birds from over 250 different populations depend on it, including 28 globally threatened species.

In the last two decades of the 20th century large parts of intertidal areas of this coastal wetland was lost to reclamation and degradation for industrial development, agricultural and domestic sources, and unsustainable fishing. This concerns approximately 37% of the Chinese part, 43% of the South Korean part and in North Korea 700km2 has yet been reclaimed. These various threats to date have directly affected shorebirds by greatly reducing their feeding habitat and, in many cases, the availability of roosting areas.

Ramsar Conference in Korea

The Book “Invisible Connections” was formally launched at the 10th Ramsar Conference of the Parties on 29 October 2008 in the Republic of Korea by Dr Gordana Beltram, Chair of Wetlands International. Dr Beltram presented signed copies of the Book to senior delegates from China and the Republic of Korea as key Yellow Sea countries.

The book was produced and published by Wetlands International and supported by Royal Dutch Shell. In January 2008 Royal Dutch Shell and Wetlands International agreed to a 5 year strategic, long term, collaborative partnership to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands by Shell and its affiliates, to raise performance standards in the energy sector and its supply chain with respect to conservation and wise use of wetlands, and to strengthen Wetlands International’s capacity for engaging with business and for leadership in wetland conservation and wise use.

One element of the partnership is to strengthen the conservation of migratory waterbirds and the wetlands they depend on. This book is a product to facilitate these efforts.


Van de Kam, J., P.F. Battley, B.J. McCaffery, D.I. Rogers, Jae-Sang Hong, N. Moores, Ju-Yong Ki, J. Lewis & T. Piersma (2008). Invisible Connections. Why migrating shorebirds need the Yellow Sea. Wetlands International, Wageningen
ISBN: 978-90-5882-009-9

Order ‘Invisible Connections’ here (soon for sale)

Download the book (21MB).

Wetlands International has another publication on the area called Shorebirds in the Yellow Sea.


“Neither tidal flats nor shorebirds are spectacular on first glance. Yet when you learn to look in the right way, you discover that they brim with life, and that the shorebirds that depend on these habitats are extraordinary creatures: elegant and deeply specialized birds which carry out the most amazing migrations in the natural world. Jan van de Kam’s pictures give us a close up view of this hidden, international and exciting world”, Dr. Danny Rogers, co-author.

“Flyways of migratory waterbirds and the conservation and wise use of the wetlands they depend upon, is a major field of work for Wetlands International, both in our strategic intent and in our new long-term, collaborative Partnership with Shell. Invisible Connections brilliantly presents the case for the importance of the Yellow Sea in the East-Asian Australasian Flyway. We are happy to have been able to work with the inspiring team that has produced the book. It is a perfect ambassador for Flyways work.” Ward Hagemeijer, Head of Biodiversity at Wetlands International.

Invisible Connections is supported by the Shell - Wetlands International partnership.

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