2020 has indeed been a year of learnings, understanding the significance of Mother Nature and the need for coexistence. Rolling through the high and low tides of 2020, made us reflect on our actions and their ultimate consequences. Thus, we humans have determinedly adapted to the stay clean, stay home and stay safe motto. With this spirit, there has been an increase in the ocean cleanups across the world which has brought forward many catastrophic revelations.
Focusing on our national beaches, scuba divers in all the coastal cities have geared up to make our seas hygienic again. The greatest example is that of the team of scuba divers in Visakhapatnam. Scuba divers of Livein Adventures, an adventure sports firm from Vizag, on Christmas Day resumed their scuba diving activity post the lockdown.600 kgs of trash was collected from under the sea in a day. The divers started finding trash just few feet into the sea. The trash that was picked up included huge amounts of face masks of various types, hand sanitiser bottles, gloves, and other COVID-19-related waste, apart from the usual plastic waste.
This highlights the need to create large-scale awareness among the citizens and local bodies to keep a check on their waste management system and contribution towards preserving our pristine environment.
Visakhapatnam has come under extensive attention in terms of the seafloor cleanups and has seen an upsurge in the number of the teams of scuba divers that regularly dive into the placid beach waters and work incessantly to clean the seafloor. The most surprising feature was that most of the litter found was the COVID-19 related litter which is extremely harmful for the precious marine life. Thus, grave concern arises in this field and poses threat to the future of our marine habitat.
To put it in a nutshell, the need of the hour is to become aware about the results and effects our actions might have on the ecosystem. That is, we must ensure that we dispose of the plastic items and the Covid-19 related safety items with extra-precaution. It is advisable to use eco-friendly safety items like cloth masks which will reduce the plastic waste burden.
We must strive for protecting our Mother Nature’s beautiful creations with great dedication and determination.
The Indian coast is a beautiful and unique feature of our peninsula, but it was only a few months ago that few of the beaches on the Indian coast were awarded the title of being one among the Blue Flag beaches.
The Blue Flag certification is a globally recognised eco-label accorded by “Foundation for Environment Education, Denmark” based on 33 stringent criteria under four major heads — environmental education and information, bathing water quality, environment management and conservation, and safety and services at the beaches.
The eight beaches certified as ‘Blue Flag Beaches’ are:
Shivrajpur beach in Gujarat
Ghoghla in Diu.
Kasarkod in Karnataka
Padubidri in Karnataka.
Kappad in Kerala
Rushikonda in Andhra Pradesh,
Golden beach in Odisha and
Radhanagar in Andaman and Nicobar Islands:
With this feat, India joined the few countries in Asia qualified for the Blue Flag certification and this indeed is an achievement for our country. This certification brings with it greater opportunities for India to expand the ecotourism sector, ensuring the tourists a sustainable experience.
India, which started working on getting the tag in 2018,plans to expand the network of Blue Flag certification to 100 beaches in the country in the next five years. The next major projects include the beaches of Bhogave (Maharashtra), Kovalam (Tamil Nadu), Eden (Puducherry), Miramar (Goa) and Bangaram (Lakshadweep). This can only be possible when we, citizens, join hands with the local bodies in preserving the beaches by maintaining cleanliness and avoiding any kind of harm to the oceanic environment. If we ensure this, we will definitely gain the world-wide recognition for all our beaches in the near future!
The Indian landmass is a nation of varied geographical landscapes and different societies and cultures. But one important sphere of the country remains unnoticed, that is, the rich diverse oceans that encompass the peninsular country. Beneath these vast stretches of crystal clear water bodies lies the ancient remains of our ancestors and past civilizations of our planet. Recent excavations have discovered artistic broken pottery on the shores of the Indian ocean which are reported to belong to the Middle Eastern Abbasid caliphate and the Chinese Ming dynasty. These are some of the many instances that remind us of the world’s oldest long-distance trans-oceanic trading arena which is sometimes known as the cradle of globalization– the majestic Indian Ocean.
The cultural connections with the Indian Ocean are significantly ancient and they highlight the cosmopolitanism of the Indian ocean which fairly explains the wide range of cultures that inhabit our motherland. After colonization, these oceans were used extensively as a means of transport until the other advanced alternatives were discovered. Thus, these incredible oceans have constituted an important part of our economy and a comparatively convenient mode of travel in the past and continue to occupy a very important part of our country’s military and financial foundation.
The seafloor provides a beautiful view of the colorful biodiversity and rich deposits of various minerals that are necessary for a country’s progress. However, deep ocean studies have been limited in the Indian oceans due to economic constraints but few missions are being carried out resulting in path-breaking discoveries.
In times of rapid global warming and environmental degradation, studying the oceans has become important, especially the Indian oceans as they are warming faster than any other ocean leading to a faster rate of submerging of low-lying islands and hence endangering the habitation living there. Excessive industrial activity near the coasts, burdening the ocean-floor with deep-sea explorations, and many other hazardous activities are putting the future of our planet at risk, and hence, we require a change in the way the society behaves selfishly and the strict enaction of laws that regulate pollution caused by industries. And before we urge others to take immediate actions, we need to awaken ourselves and take effective steps to curb natural degradation and hence, secure the future of Mother Earth.
As a cool gush of air had blown past us on a winter morning in Chennai, our day started with the collection of trash from the beach stretch of Ashtalakshmi Temple in Besant Nagar. The poster released on the 6th of January brought 30 volunteers to the beach stretch. On 9th January by 7 am, with gloves tightened, and with sack bags in the hands, our volunteers were ready to pick up non-biodegradable waste from Chennai’s coast.
Plastic and glass bottles were collected separately.
About 15 sack bags were collected within 2 hours.
The approx calculation of 1 sack bag to 8 kg makes sure that about 100 kg of Plastic waste and 20 kg of Glass bottle waste was collected from the stretch on the day.
We observed something positive that day. The quantum of trash had gradually decreased in the area thanks to our hard-working volunteers and support from the city administration which we noticed by the presence of GCC’s machine, which picks up trash from the soil on the beach. Prior information to Urbaser had resulted in the separation of the waste collected on the spot and was transported for recycling.
The clean up on the 4th Seaward Road Beach was no different from this. Taking place at the same time, this beach clean up saw close to 30 volunteers come together to clean Chennai’s coast!
No of volunteers – around 25-30
Totally 20 sack bags were collected in which 3 of the bags contains only glass bottle
Each of the bag weighs around 10-12 Kg of trash. Approximately 240 Kg of trash was removed
Both the events ended at 9:15 am, and an ending orientation was given about the need for beach clean up helping marine life, eco tips and about E.F.I and it works for example ERASE, PLASTONE, GLASS WALL etc. For collection of trash, GCC’s Urbaser was informed before the event, and the garbage machine arrived on time 10 minutes after the event!
We thank all those who had joined us for the Beach Clean Up! We thank the GCC and the HCL Foundation for supporting this effort!
Volunteer for India and her Environment with E.F.I, Jai Hind
Oceans form a crucial part of our nature. They not only cool down the atmosphere and provide us with life-giving clouds but also provide shelter to millions of species of marine organisms. Unfortunately, the graceful water bodies of our beloved World are under serious threat of degradation. Be it the large amounts of CO2 emissions that raise the temperature and evaporation of water from oceans or be it the large-scale pollution of the pristine waters with non-biodegradable items, mankind has put the entire system of ecological balance on risk for it’s own benefit. We need to change this negligent and selfish attitude else we must be ready for the disastrous future.
Keeping in mind the 14th UNDP sustainable goal for development, it is evident that governments and authorities definitely have a role to play in the conservation of water-bodies but it all starts with the participation of individuals. It is wrong to blame the entire society for this menace because most of the people are unaware of the fact that their simple ignorant actions are the roots of complex and massive environmental destruction. Thus, here we present three easy ways in which you can contribute towards a healthy tomorrow for you and your future generations.
1. THINK before you ACT
Generally we do something important for our well-being with all care and strength but when it comes to nature and it’s preservation, we tend to neglect the consequences of our actions. Thus, before you buy a plastic bag, before you unwrap a polythene cover, keep in mind that proper disposal of these hazardous substances is more important than their usage. Especially when you are at a beach having a jolly picnic, remember the water-bodies are a part of our larger family called ecosystem and hence contaminating them is not rightful.
2. Opt for recyclable items
Single use plastics are convenient to use but their decomposition takes a very long time. Thus, we must opt for alternatives like paper or cloth items which cause relative less harm to the nature.
3. Eat sustainably
Food forms an essential part of anyone’s life. Thus, making wise decisions about the food you eat is one of the best ways to help our environment recover. Eat local. Eat sustainable. Do not crave for seafoods that are over exploited and help these species survive and replenish.
By following these three simple steps, one can do a lot on one’s behalf for the better future and healthy living of the mankind and the marine ecosystem.
When it comes to the marine heritage of the Eastern coast of India, the vast stretch of Bay of Bengal is the shining embellishment that the country possesses. But in the course of years of technological development and advancement in industrial production, mankind has caused immeasurable damage to the kind and selfless environment. Coming to the coast of Bay of Bengal, in the past few years, the contamination of seashores by chemical pollutants has rendered 60,000 sq.km of coastal area ‘dead’ and hence the title- dead zones.
According to global scientists, there are more than 450 dead zones in the world. The dead zones are low-oxygen water bodies within marine ecosystem where life cannot exist. Excessive nutrient pollution and other factors deplete the oxygen content in the water. This leads to mass mortality of fish and marine animals.
The lack of strict enaction of rules by the government in controlling the amount of industrial waste,fertiliser runoff and sewage that enters the sea has led to this catastrophic consequence which us claiming the lives of thousands of marine organisms. If this continues, the marine biodiversity will have to face a painful extinction in the future. This eventually has a grave impact on the balance of the ecosystem which is essential for life to survive on Earth.
A handful of the 166 dead zones have since bounced back through improved management of sewage and agricultural runoff, but as fertilizer use and factory farming increase, we are creating dead zones faster than nature can recover. This shows that dead-zones are not irreversible. With sincere and dedicated steps, we-the children of Mother Nature-can help in reversing the condition of dead-zones and insure the future of marine life in turn guaranteeing the wonderful future of our planet. We must voice our opinions and ask for the formation and implementation of rules that protect the aquatic environment. We, together, with concerted efforts can bring back the lost glory of our divine oceans.
India is blessed with a beautiful coastline, with several serene beaches and vibrant ocean fronts. Yet, we continue to misuse and ill-treat our fragile coasts that give life to several other life forms!
There’s so much about the ocean that we don’t know! Join us in our effort, #EFISamudra, to conserve and protect our ocean.
Video by: K Sri Sivaram, Communications intern
We thank all those have joined us over the years to protect and conserve India’s beaches!
Volunteer for India and her Environment with E.F.I, Jai Hind
Every beach at Visakhapatnam has its own uniqueness and distinct specialty. From clean, scenic beaches to fun-filled thrilling sea-shores, one can explore the variety of coastal attributes maintained by human intervention. But there’s one beach here, in the littoral city of Visakhapatnam, which has been untouched to a large extent and its tranquility will touch your heart as you read below about the story of the Kondakorla Ava beach.
Far away from the hustle of the busy city, the Kondakorla Ava beach resides in complete peacefulness with frequent visits by exhausted locals and curious tourists who seek refuge in the welcoming ripples of the white-sand beach. It is home to one of the biggest freshwater lakes of the state and this is one big attraction for the tourists along with its picturesque setting dotted with coconut trees and lush green hills on either side.
The fishermen at the beach have made it possible for the tourists to enjoy the buoyancy of the cool waters by offering boating opportunities. Unlike the traditional polished boats, the boatmen use logs of palm trees to make rafts that provide a rustic experience with the chance to wave your hands through the numerous lotus flowers that bloom here.
Occasionally, migratory birds drop by to greet the locals at the Bird and lake sanctuary here which is home to several exotic bird species like cormorants, pochards, herons, storks, and egrets. In short, a perfect place for witnessing the marine life thriving at Visakhapatnam is the Kondakorla Ava beach. It reminds us that biodiversity adds various colours to our life and it is extremely important to preserve such places to ensure this coexistence, the harmony, continues to exist for generations to come.