Sighting of a Super Pod of Pan-tropical Spotted Dolphins off Chennai Coast

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On 6th August 2016, while on a pelagic birdwatching trip off the coast of Chennai, we stumbled upon a huge pod of dolphins approximately about 22 kms from the coast. Initially we thought it could be a group of different species as we saw a lot of movement, and breaching dolphins jumping high up in the air at a distance. They kept moving fast with one or the other individual breaching every now and then. There were calves and adults, … Read More

Otters in a Famous Tourist Destination

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Beaches and sunsets are what come to mind when most people think of Goa. This small state in western India has earned its reputation as one of the most favoured top tourist destinations. But very few know that Goa also has a rich diversity of flora and fauna. Much of the eastern rim of Goa falls within the Western Ghats (a global biodiversity hotspot). Goa has an area of 3,702 sq.km with several rivers spread across the state, all of … Read More

Mass Bycatch Mortality of Sea Snakes, Goa

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Bycatch – the incidental, unintentional take of non-commercial, non-target species or undersized animals in fishing gear — has been an ever-increasing threat to the planet’s marine life, and is today considered one of the major threats to marine biodiversity the world over. The problem of bycatch is now a widely recognised and well-documented menace to threatened wildlife, including marine mammals, sea turtles, sharks and rays, and endangered seabirds such as the wandering albatross. Witnessing first-hand the devastation caused even by … Read More

Anatomy of Shark Fisheries in Gujarat, India

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Gujarat is gifted with a beautiful 1600 km coastline, the longest in India, and a wide continental shelf, making its waters nutrient rich and diverse in marine fauna. It tops the charts in fish production, and has the highest quantities of sharks harvested in India (CMFRI, 2013). Existing catch-related data collected over the years indicated dwindling shark harvests. While at ground level, efforts to increase fish catch were intensified, it was important to study shark fisheries and local fishing trends … Read More

Goa’s Marine Mammals in Danger

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Skipping the Important Details — What About Mormugao’s Marine Mammals?

The coast of Goa has a rich variety of coastal and marine habitats which, besides supporting a lot of biodiversity, also sustains the tourism industry that forms the state’s economic backbone. All of this is now on the verge of destruction, with the latest developments proposed by the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT), in association with Jindal SWPL, Adani and Vedanta.

This plan, to expand the port and develop a large … Read More

A First-hand Account of Incidental Dolphin Entrapment in a Fishing Net

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“Dolphin!” the driver of the fishing boat said to me excitedly, as he shook me awake from my slumber in the cabin. It was pitch dark outside. I looked at the time – it was ten past one in the morning. We were far from shore, almost eighty kilometres off the middle of the Karnataka coast, and on the crystal clear, inky blue waters of the continental shelf, just over two-hundred feet deep at our location.

Out on these seemingly … Read More

Bioluminescent Phytoplankton, Juhu Beach, Mumbai

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We all saw this spectacle in ‘Life of Pi’ without realizing what it was! These are bioluminescent phytoplanktons called dinoflagellates. Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light (at night) by a living organism. Phytoplankton are photosynthesizing microscopic organisms that inhabit the upper sunlit layer of almost all oceans and fresh water bodies on Earth. They emit a protein called luciferase which helps them glow in the night.

There are several genera of dinoflagellates which are bioluminescent. Most of them … Read More

Declining Indian Fisheries: Perceptions of Fisher Folk from Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu

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Although over four million people worldwide are dependent on wild-caught fish as a source of protein, marine fish are not at the top of the conservation radar. Although fish are among the most important components of marine ecosystems after plankton, they are most seriously threatened by human activities in the sea. In recognition of this fact, fisheries across the world are being managed based on estimates of sustainable harvest rates for each population of fish. However this requires intensive data … Read More

Coastal Crabs of India — Photofeature

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A walk along the beach is something most people would enjoy. When we see crabs trying to run away from our path, often the child in us comes to the fore and we run about chasing them! It was during my first visit to Devbagh, Karwar, off the North Karnataka coast that I was taken by surprise by the beauty of coastal crabs.

Over the years, during the many visits to Devbagh, I have spent considerable time looking for crabs … Read More

Framing Ecologically Sound Policy on Linear Intrusions Affecting Wildlife Habitats

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In the 20th meeting of the Standing Committee of the NBWL held on 13 October 2010, it was discussed that linear intrusions were a serious issue and a sound policy needs to be framed consulting various experts. The Chairman requested the member of the Standing Committee from the Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore, to prepare a background paper that could be discussed at the next meeting to move towards the formulation of a policy on linear intrusions at the national level. … Read More

Orissa Imposes Seven-month Ban On Fishing Near Turtle Nesting Sites

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Orissa has imposed a 7-month fishing ban within 20 kms of the coastline in three districts where there are olive ridley turtle nesting sites. Turtles have started congregating for their annual mating and mass nesting ritual. The ban has been imposed near the beaches of Gahirmatha, Rushikulya and Devi. Patrolling will be intensified to enforce the ban strictly. Last year, there were two nesting events and a record 7.2 lakh turtles had nested on the beaches. However, despite many conservation … Read More

Report Indicates Five Sea Turtle Danger Zones Exist in the Waters of India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka

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A study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has identified 11 most endangered turtle species and has said that the five of the danger zones are in the exclusive economic zones of India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Poaching and killing of wildlife is rampant on Indian shores. The Olive Ridley and the Hawksbill turtles nest on Indian shores and they face their most danger from becoming bycatches in fisheries as well as direct harvest of turtles and … Read More

National Centre for Marine Biodiversity Coming up in Gujarat

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A National Centre for Marine Biodiversity (NCMB) is coming up in Jamnagar, Gujarat. The centre will have the goal of safeguarding the biodiversity of coastal area. It is the first research institute set up in a public private partnership in the country. Jamnagar is close to India’s only Marine National Park in the Gulf of Kutch. The overall mission of the centre will be to support integrated management of coastal and marine biodiversity and ensure sustainable development and hazard management. … Read More

Coral Reefs Face Extinction Before the End of the Century

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Coral reefs around the world are facing extinction before the end of the century, due to increasing acidity in the ocean. A study which analyzed volcanic seeps that emit minerals and gases has shown that diversity and complexity of Coral Reefs drops as pH values fell from 8.1 to 7.8 and reef development stopped completely when the pH fell to below 7.7. The study of the seeps comes closest to simulating the effects of man made CO2 emissions. … Read More

Study to understand impact of Jaitapur Nuclear Project on Marine Ecology and Biodiversity

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The National Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) has planned to undertake a study to understand the possible effects of the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project on the marine ecology and biodiversity. The study will be conducted by five environmental organizations and headed by the BNHS director, A.R. Rahmani. The marine ecology around Jaitapur is considered vibrant. The study is expected to take a year and cost Rs. 5.86 crore. However, activists and experts are skeptical of the study as environment … Read More

Record Release of Olive Ridley Turtle Hatchlings in Chennai Coast

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Over 14,000 hatchlings, coming out of around 180 nests, have been released this season in the 14-km stretch between Napier’s bridge and Neelangarai on the Chennai coast. The nests were relocated to safer locations using scientific protocol. Sustained action by conservationists have helped with turtle conservation. For instance, the Casuarina trees planted as part of the Tsunami Reconstruction encroached upon the turtle nesting sites. Sustained efforts from conservation NGOs caused the World Bank to withdraw its loan and the forest … Read More

Sundarbans mangroves carbon absorption rated at 4 crore tonnes

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In a study done by researchers at University of Calcutta, the mangrove forests of Sundarbans, which have an area of 2118 sq. km, store around 4.15 crore tonnes of CO2, This is valued at US$ 79 billion in the international carbon trading markets. The two year study has been funded by the Union Ministry of Earth Science to analyze the carbon sequestration efficiency of the Mangrove Forests. Above ground biomass was estimated for carbon content using laser beams. The study … Read More

Mass hatching of Olive Ridley turtles starts in Orissa Coast

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Mass hatching of Olive Ridley turtles has started in the Orissa Coast. During the past two nights, around 4 lakh hatchlings have come out of 50,000 nests. Around 2,54,000 mother turtles have come to nest this year. The hatchlings so far experienced tough conditions for hatching, as light rains had hardened the top layer of the sand, making it hard for them to emerge from the nests. Hundreds of volunteers under the banner of the Rushikulya Sea Turtle Protection Committee … Read More

Sixteen dolphins found washed ashore dead in Puducherry (Pondicherry)

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Sixteen long-nosed dolphins were found dead at three places on the Puducherry coast. This is the 20th incident in 16 months. Wildlife officials visited the spot and inspected the dead mammals. One carcass was sent to the Rajiv Gandhi College for Veterinary Sciences for detailed analysis. All the dead appeared to be members of a pod and it is suspected that this was a case of mass stranding. … Read More

Coastal Mangroves the Most Carbon Rich Forests on Earth

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More carbon is said to be stored in Coastal Mangroves than any other forest ecosystem on Earth. The findings were published in Nature Geoscience and were the conclusions of a research team from the US Forest Service’s Southwest and Northern Research Stations, University of Helsinki and the Center for International Forestry Research. Per hectare, mangrove forests store four times more carbon than most tropical forests. The findings were based on their examination of 25 mangrove forests across the Indo Pacific … Read More

Conservation projects launched for Olive Ridley Turtles and Black Bucks in Ganjam District, Orissa

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Two projects have been launched under the Natural Resources Conservation Outside Protected Areas (NRCOPA) scheme in Ganjam district. The Rushikulya River Mouth project has been launched for Olive Ridley Sea Turtle conservation, while the Bhetonai-Balipadar project has been launched to protect Black Bucks. The NRCOPA is a Central Government scheme for conservation of biodiversity through community-led efforts. The said projects will extend support to conservation efforts in Odisha and Madhya Pradesh  by strengthening the capacity of communities to manage resources … Read More

Dead Dolphin Washes Ashore the Marina Beach in Chennai

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A five-foot long dolphin weighing more than 150 kgs washed ashore the Marina beach in Chennai. It appeared to have died from serious head injuries. The range officer who examined the body said that it could have died due to an injury from a trawler. Supraja Dharini, the founder of an NGO called Tree foundation says that this is the third such incident in Chennai in the past three months. She said that in-depth studies must be carried out to … Read More

OPG Power’s plans for huge thermal plant on the Gujarat coast under scrutiny by MoEF

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A massive thermal power plant planned on the Kutch coast in Gujarat continues to face pressures from the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF). OPG Power Gujarat Private Limited is behind the project, which threatens the sensitive coastal environment of Bhadreshwar. There are accusations that OPG Power did not carry out its obligations to hold public hearings, as well as violations of state government directives to not begin any activity until environmental clearance was obtained. There are also accusations that … Read More