Site: Pondicherry Coastline
What is your personal relation to the natural coastal or marine site you represent?
The vastness of the ocean beyond the sand beneath my feet has always fascinated me. Pondicherry has made me feel closer to the ocean. As a huge coastal stretch lies right outside my Pondicherry university campus, it is the most frequently visited place by me.
One of the days when I was helping the fishermen to pull out the nets which they laid into the sea, I found many jelly fishes stuck to the nets with broken tentacles. I rescued these and released them immediately into the water. Seeing several of these jelly fishes make their way back home into the vast sea, by rolling over the waves was a visual treat.
I relate to this coast in several ways. I wait for hours on this coast hoping to see a dolphin jump out of the water taking a huge leap and splash back into it. I have seen this coast before the “Thane” cyclone and after it. It was devastating. The fishermen had no catch for a long time, their houses were thrashed by the winds and livelihoods were severely affected. I want to make a difference in some way, to the existing critical conditions of people struggling for their sustainability.
What are the specific problems and threats of your natural coastal or marine site?
The natural and anthropogenic challenges that the Pondicherry coast faces is vast.
1. Port Construction
2. By-catch, over fishing and Ghost nets
3. Groundwater depletion
4. Natural disasters – Tsunamis, cyclones:“Thane” cyclone in Dec, 2011,caused a delay in the nesting season of olive ridleys as they couldn’t dig and lay eggs in moist sand.
5. Beach erosion- Affects intertidal fauna
6. Municipal, Industrial and tourist waste disposal (plastics) on the beaches and effluents being discharged into the ocean.
7. Tourism pressure- construction of resorts on the beaches.
8. Poaching, illegal Wildlife trade(Turtle nesting sites in danger, birds shot for meat).
9. Radars-disorient the dolphins, bring them to the shores, they get stranded and eventually die. (16 long-nosed dolphins were washed ashore dead along the Pondicherry coast in April, 2011.)
Apart from these, the mangroves and coastal wetlandsof Pondicherry are also of a huge concern. Kaliveli wetland is one of the largest wetlands in peninsular Indiathat harbors around one lakh migratory birds each year. Recently, an illegal film shoot was seen taking place which included the use of water bombs,during the breeding season of resident and migratory birds. Kaliveli also faces poaching and hunting of exotic birds.
Why do you think is it important to safeguard your natural coastal or marine site?
Pondicherry has a significant long coastline of about 23km. It faces recurring episodes of tsunamis & cyclones. Alternatives to fishing, as source of income during such catastrophic events, should be designed (as a large population depends on fishing as their only source of income).
The endangered marine reptiles like olive ridley turtles and green turtles have been breeding along the shores of Pondicherry. There is a large presence of marine mammals (Schedule 1 of Wildlife Protection Act) around this coast that have not been documented and monitored.By-catches by fishermen bring in large number of jelly fishes, sea horses, sting rays and many other deep sea organisms which might be under threat. Illegal wildlife trade and poaching has been recorded from coastal wetlands.
Keeping the above issues in mind, I feel it is very essential to safeguard the coast of Pondicherry which humbly harbors our marine resources. Practices such as sustainable fishing, early prediction of catastrophic events, collection of satisfactory scientific data, community awareness and knowledge can lead to a holistic conservation of this coast.
I feel issues pertaining to conservation of coastal and marine life must be dealt with and subsequent measures should be taken to sustain livelihoods.