Gulf of Mannar 

#GS3 #Environment #Biodiversity 

The COVID19 lockdown has had a positive impact on coastal ecosystems of the Gulf of Mannar. 

  • Limited industrial activities and human interference has reduced the levels of pollution, increased the number of fish species and density and has improved the overall quality of marine water. 
  • There has been a remarkable reduction in macro and meso-plastic pollution levels at eight locations along the coast. 
  • Another major outcome of the study is the increase in the number of species of coral reef fish, from 89 in February to 96 in May, in the Thoothukudi group of islands of Gulf of Mannar. The average fish density has also increased by 22%. 
  • During the lockdown, the population of Scarus ghobban (parrot fish) has increased by 39%. 

About Scarus Ghobban  

  • Scarus ghobban, also known as the blue-barred parrotfish, blue trim parrotfish, cream parrotfish, globe-headed parrotfish, green blotched parrotfish, yellow scale parrotfish, and bluechin parrotfish, is a species of marine ray-finned fish in the family Scaridae. 
  • This species is blue-green to green in colour and commonly grows to approximately 46 cm. Its appearance is variable. It may have a central stripe on the dorsal and anal fins that is pink in colour. The underside of the body may be pinkish or yellowish. There may be blue markings around the area of the pectoral fin. 
  • It occurs in places with sandy bottoms and in areas with seagrass. It is also known to live in marginal reefs and in deeper waters. 
  • Scarus ghobban is widespread throughout the Indo-Pacific, known to live in waters from East Africa to Indonesia. It has also been found in the Mediterranean, likely having entered by way of the Red Sea. It also occurs at the Galapagos Islands as well as Japan, south to Australia and east to French Polynesia. 

About Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve  

  • The Gulf of Mannar is endowed with three distinct Coastal ecosystems namely coral reef, seagrass bed and mangroves. 
  • It is considered one of the world’s richest region from a marine biodiversity perspective. It is known for its unique biological wealth and is a store house of marine diversity of global significance. 
  • The Gulf’s 4,223 species of plants and animals representing from primitive to higher forms make it one of the richest coastal regions in India. 
  • Most of the islands have luxuriant growth of mangroves on their shorelines and swampy regions. The sea bottom of the inshore area around the islands are carpeted with seagrass beds which serve as ideal feeding ground for Dugong dugon, the endangered herbivorous marine mammal. 
  • Highly productive fringing and patch coral reefs surround the islands and are often referred to as underwater tropical rainforest and treasure house for marine biodiversity, in particular marine ornamental fishes. Occurrence of these specialised ecosystems makes Gulf of Mannar an unique large marine ecosystem in the Indian subcontinent. 
  • The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve occupies a prominent place in the cultural heritage and history of India. The famous pilgrim centre, Rameswaram, which finds place in the epic Ramayana (one of the great epics of India) is situated in the gulf on the island of Pamban. 
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