India and Sri Lanka are divided by the Gulf of Mannar, a small body of shallow water off the southern coast of India. Being one of the richest hotspots for marine biodiversity, it has an area of roughly 10,500 square kilometres and is home to a wide variety of marine life.
Source: Drishti IAS
The Gulf of Mannar is home to three distinct coastal ecosystems, including coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangroves. From the perspective of marine biodiversity, this region is one of the richest in the world. It is renowned for its exceptional biological wealth and is a repository of marine diversity of significant global importance.These reefs are home to a large number of fish species, as well as other marine organisms such as sea turtles, dolphins, and whales. The waters of the Gulf of Mannar are also home to several species of sharks, including the endangered whale shark.
The Gulf of Mannar is also a major fishing ground, with over 500,000 people depending on it for their livelihood. However, overfishing, destructive fishing practices, and pollution have led to a decline in the population of many marine species in the area.
To protect the marine ecosystem of the Gulf of Mannar, the Indian government has established the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, which covers an area of 560 square kilometers. The park includes 21 islands and islets, as well as the surrounding waters. The park is home to several endangered species, including the dugong, a large marine mammal that is often called the “sea cow.”
Furthermore, initiatives are being undertaken to encourage sustainable fishing methods in the Gulf of Mannar. In order to maintain crucial fish habitats, the government has established marine protected zones, and local populations are being urged to adopt eco-friendly fishing techniques. These initiatives are essential to safeguarding the Gulf of Mannar’s rich biodiversity for future generations.
- ENVIS Centre – Department of Environment, “INFORMATION BOOKLET ON GULF OF MANNAR BIOSPHERE RESERVE”. Government of Tamil Nadu.
- “Gulf of Mannar: Where two worlds collide”. The New Indian Express, March 25, 2018.
- K Diraviya Raj, Mathews Gilbert & Selva Bharath, “Patterns in the abundance of fish and snail corallivores associated with an outbreak of acute tissue loss disease on the reefs of Vaan Island in the Gulf of Mannar, India”. ResearchGate, June 2016.
- “Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve, India”. UNESCO, January 2019.