Monday, 1 September 2014

The Blakiston line

Thomas Wright Blakiston (1832-91)

Thomas Blakiston spent 23 years in Hakodate, one of the Japanese Treaty Ports opened to foreign trade in 1858. He failed in his original enterprise, to establish a saw mill, but flourished as a merchant. More importantly he made many observations as an ornithologist.

Blakiston was the first to observe that fauna of the northern island of Hokkaido differed from that of Honshu. Thus the Strait of Tsugara formed a zoogeographical barrier of a type similar to the Wallace Line (previous post). It is referred to as the Blakiston Line.

Blakiston's Fish Owl (Bubo blakistoni)
There is a memorial to Thomas Blakiston atop Mount Hakodate. In addition the former British Consulate, now a museum in the historic quarter of Hakodate, commemorates his several contributions. Blakiston's Fish Owl was named in his honour.

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