The Ariake Sea (有明海, Ariake-kai) is a body of salt water surrounded by Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, and Kumamoto Prefectures, all of which lie on the island of Kyūshū in Japan. It is the largest bay in Kyūshū. Its deepest point is only about 50 m deep, and extreme tides exceed 4 m, covering roughly 1,700 km2. It is used for aquaculture, with nori being a major product. Various species of fauna, including mudskippers, pen shells (Atrina pectinata), and fiddler crabs, live in the Ariake Sea. In autumn, there is red-grass along the sea shore. Recent years have brought increasing pollution, with resultant red tides. Isahaya Bay is a branch of the Ariake Sea. Across the Amakusa Islands lies the Yatsushiro Sea. There is ongoing land reclamation as evidenced by satellite despite government attempts to dissuade farmers from carrying out the activity.
Many harbors are located on the coast. Among them are Misumi (in the city of Uki, Kumamoto Prefecture), Shimabara (Shimabara, Nagasaki), Taira (Unzen, Nagasaki), Nagasu (Nagasu, Kumamoto), Kumamoto (Kumamoto, Kumamoto), Miike (Omuta, Fukuoka), Kuchinotsu (Minamishimabara, Nagasaki), and Oniike (Amakusa, Kumamoto).
Five ferry routes cross the Ariake Sea.
- 有明海 (Japanese Wikipedia, including map)
- 有明海総合研究プロジェクト "Ariake Sea General Research Project" (Saga University, in Japanese)
- 有明海等環境情報・研究ネットワーク "Environmental Information on Ariake Etc.: Research Network" (Japan Fisheries Resource Conservation Association, in Japanese)