by Abitha Begam
Have you ever heard of marine life sanctuaries? I know we are quite familiar with bird sanctuaries, but what is these marine life sanctuaries? Marine life sanctuaries are places that come under protected areas where the intervention of humans is restricted. They are completely secured by the Government and its regulations. India consists of the wealthiest coastal ecosystem and has been a home for various rare species and it consists of six marine life sanctuaries.
One among them is the Rani Jhansi Marine National Park, which was named in the remembrance of Laxmibai, the queen (Rani) of Jhansi. It was found in 1996 in the Bay of Bengal with an area of 256.14 sq km which is present over Ritchie’s archipelago. The national park is completely reserved and activities like deforestation, hunting and poaching are strictly prohibited. The periphery of the park is lined with the mangrove forest and it is popular for its fruit-eating bats. They form the house for many species like dugongs, crocodiles, coral reefs, leatherback turtles and olive ridley turtles. The interesting fact about this park is it is very much suitable for people who desire to explore the underwater life of the creatures.
“Why are these fruit-eating bats so special? They are special because they are the only type of bats that rely on smell and vision rather than the solar system, the other fact is that they disperse undigested seed or pollens into the environment through which a healthy ecosystem develops”
Gahirmatha Marine sanctuary is a happy spot for turtle lovers which is located in the state of Odisha. It is said that during the pandemic situation, around 4.5 lakh of olive ridley turtles had been nestled, the presence of thick mangrove forests lining the coastal line and the swampy forests creates a home for these turtles. It is considered as the world’s largest olive ridley turtle nesting site and has been protected by the Odisha government which starts from the Dhamra River in the north and ends in the Brahmani River in the south that covers an area of 1435 sq. km.
Another interesting marine national park in Tamil Nadu is the Gulf of Mannar which consists of coral reefs and a group of 21 small islands. It is a protected area and access for the public is very limited. It is considered one of the richest and largest national parks. The park houses some rare species like the sea horses, sea cucumber, pearl oyster, dugongs, mangroves, seagrasses and some of the other vulnerable mammals. The biosphere extends up to 6.23 sq km lining between Tuticorin and Dhanushkodi.
Malvan marine sanctuary, which is in Sindhudurg, Maharashtra is a famous tourist hotspot. It covers an area of 29.22 sq km. This place is considered the perfect spot for watching dolphins galloping in the sea. It forms a major habitat for the species like sea anemones, molluscs, pearl oysters, various types of coral reefs and a home for a variety of fishes like Putitor mahseer, catfishes, black-headed gulls, plovers and some of the birds like waterfowls, tern and plover. The tourist spot near the sanctuary offers some activities like scuba diving and snorkelling.
The fun fact about the place is “it is called as low budget Andaman and Nicobar Islands due to its crystal-clear water surface”
Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park is an archipelago of 20 islands and rocks. This national park is situated near Wandoor in the Andaman Island which belongs to the south Andaman administrative district. For protecting the coral reefs and the nesting sites of turtles in 1983, this park was created. During the tsunami, though it had not got so much damage, it was restricted. Still, there are some islands that are protected. The two major important island groups are labyrinth and twin islands. They form the house for various coral reefs, colourful fishes, molluscs, shells, starfishes and saltwater crocodiles. It has also been found as a phenomenal spot for bird watching.
“Did you know, which is the very first marine national park in India?”
Marine national park present in the Gulf of Kutch, Gujarat, is the very first national park in India, which consists of 42 islands. This park majorly focuses on the conservation of the coral reefs present in the 33 islands. Some of the best-known islands among them are Pirotan, Karubhar, Narara and Positra, which consists of sandy beaches, mangroves and swamps. These islands act as a home for various species like a sea mammal, sponges and various types of fish. The park has been declared in the category II area by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).