Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park

Infobox Indian Jurisdiction
type = national park
native_name = Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park
other_name =
iucn_category = II
state_name = Tamil Nadu
location = Indian Ocean
district = Thoothukudi & Ramanathapuram
nearest_city = Madurai 150 km
latd = 09
latm = 01
longd = 78
longm = 43
skyline = Dugong.jpg
skyline_caption = Dugong, a vulnerable marine mammal
altitude =
area_total = 560
precip = 900| temp_summer =
temp_winter =
|established_title = Established
established_date = 1986
blank_title_1 = ref
blank_value_1 =
title =
authors =
publisher =
url =
accessdate=
blank_title_2 = Governing body
blank_value_2 = [http://www.forests.tn.nic.in/WildBiodiversity/br_gmmnp.html Tamil Nadu Ministry of Environment and Forests]
inset_map_marker = yes
website =
footnotes =
The Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park is a protected area of India consisting of 21 small islands (islets) and adjacent coral reefs in the Gulf of Mannar in the Indian Ocean. It lies 1 to 10 Km away from the east coast of Tamil Nadu, South India for 160 km between Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) and Dhanushkodi. It is the core area of the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve which includes a 10 km buffer zone around the park, including the populated coastal area.cite web |url= http://data.undp.org.in/factsheets/ene/oct06/GulfofMannar.pdf|title= Conservation and Sustainable-use of the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve’s Coastal Biodiversity|accessdate=2007-10-15 |author=UNDP |year= 1994|work= |publisher= UNDP, Project Brief, New York|format=PDF] The park has a high diversity of plants and animals in its marine, intertidal and near shore habitats. Public access inside the Park is prohibited.cite web |url= http://gombrtrust.org/gomnp.htm|title= Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park (GOMNP)|accessdate=2007-10-15 |author= GMBRT|year= 2007|work= |publisher= Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve Trust]

Geography

The km2 to mi2|560|abbr=yes park is part of the 140 km long and 25 km wide Mannar barrier reef. It lies between 8° 47’ to 9° 15’ N latitude and 78° 12’ to 79° 14’ E longitude. The 21 islands vary from 0.25 ha (.6 acre) to 130 ha. (321.2 acres). Total area of the islands is km2 to mi2|6.23|abbr=yes [http://www.niot.res.in/m5/mbic/osti/newsletters/newsletter/july2004.pdf Map p.2]

The islands (listed southwest to northeast) include four in the Tuticorin group:
Vaan, 16.00 ha coord|8.83639|N|78.21047|E
Koswari, 19.50 ha coord|8.86879|N|78.22506|E
Vilanguchalli, 0.95 ha coord|8.93815|N|78.26969|E, now 1 m below mean low tide level as a result of excessive coral mining.
Kariyachalli, 16 .46 ha coord|8.95409|N|78.25235|E;

three in the Vembar group:
Uppu Thanni, 22.94 ha, elevation 4 m coord|9.08921|N|78.49148|E
Puluvini Challi, 6.12 ha, elevation 5.5 m coord|9.10320|N|78.53688|E
Nalla Thanni, 101.00 ha, elevation 11.9m (recently populated) coord|9.10667|N|78.57885|E; seven in the Keelakarai group:
Anaipar, 11.00 ha, elevation 2.1 m coord|9.15294|N|78.69481|E
Vali Munai, 6.72 ha, elevation 1.2 m coord|9.15354|N|78.73052|E
Poovarasan Patti, 0.50 ha, elevation 1.2 m coord|9.15413|N|78.76695|E
Appa, 28.63 ha, elevation 6.4 m coord|9.16582|N|78.82596|E
Talairi, 75.15 ha, elevation 2.7 m coord|9.18133|N|78.90673|E
Valai 10.10 ha, elevation 3.0 m coord|9.18421|N|78.93866|E
Mulli, 10.20 ha, elevation 1.2 m coord|9.18641|N|78.96810|E; and seven in the Mandapam group:
Musal, 124.00 ha, elevation .9m coord|9.19912|N|79.07530|E (recently populated)
Manoli, 25.90 ha coord|9.21564|N|79.12834|E
Manoli-Putti 2.34 ha coord|9.21581|N|79.12800|E
Poomarichan 16.58 ha coord|9.24538|N|79.17993|E
Pullivasal, 29.95 ha coord|9.23699|N|79.19100|E
Kurusadai, 65.80 ha coord|9.24690|N|79.20945|E was recently populated. Its surrounding shallow waters harbour three species of seagrass that are found nowhere else in India. Representatives of every animal phylum known (except amphibians) are found on this island.cite web |url= http://www.niot.res.in/m5/mbic/osti/newsletters/newsletter/july2004.pdf|title= Focus on an Island|accessdate=2007-10-15 |author= OSTI staff|month= July | year= 2004|work= Ocean Science and Technology for Islands Newsletter, Vol 2.3 Issue 5, p.2|publisher= National Institute of Ocean Technology,Chennai|format=PDF]
Shingle, 12.69 ha, elevation .6m coord|9.24174|N|79.23563|E.

Tidal amplitude in the area is about .5m. cite web |url= http://iomenvis.nic.in/gulf%20of%20mannar.htm|title=Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve: |accessdate= 2007-10-15|author= IOM|year= 2007|work= Ecologically Important Areas of Tamil Nadu Coast|publisher= Institute for Ocean Management, Anna University]

There were two more islands named Pandayan and Punnaiyadi at coord|8.78075|N|78.19536|E that were destroyed for construction of the new Tuticorn Port facilities.

Flora and fauna

The park includes estuaries, mudflats, beachs and forests of the near shore environment. It also includes marine components such as coral reefs, seaweed communities, sea grasses, salt marshes and mangroves. [http://gombrtrust.org/seaweeds.htm Seaweed photo gallery]

Flora- Mangroves dominate the intertidal zones of the park islands. They consist of species belonging to the Rhizophora, Avicennia, Bruguiera, Ceriops and Lumnitzera genus. Mangroves: [http://gombrtrust.org/mangroves.htm photo gallery] . Introduced Prosopis genus of tree species are dominant on land in all the islands. Pemphis acidula (Lythraceae family of flowering herb) is the only endemic plant species.cite web |url= http://www.wii.gov.in/ars/2006/stalin.htm|title= Vegetation status in the offshore islands of Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, Tamil Nadu|accessdate=2007-10-15 |author=Jeganathan Stalin|year= 2007|work=|publisher=Wildlife Institute of India] 147 species of sea grass in the highly diverse communities of this area is the highest number of species recorded in India. This vegetation provides important feeding grounds for the vulnerable marine mammal Dugong,cite web |url= http://sdmri.org/reports/CORDIO%20%20Report%202005%20-%20Reef%20status%20in%20Tuticorin%20coast.pdf|title= Status of Coral Reefs of the Tuticorin Coast, Gulf of Mannar, Southeast Coast of India|accessdate=2007-10-15 |author=J. K. PATTERSON EDWARD, JAMILA PATTERSON, G. MATHEWS & DAN WILHELMSSON|date= |work=|publisher= Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute|format=PDF] endangered Green turtles and Olive Ridley turtles.cite web |url=http://envfor.nic.in/icrmn/events/stcri00.html |title= Status of Coral Reefs of India|accessdate= 2007-10-15|author= E.V. Muley, J.R.B. Alfred, K. Venkataraman, M.V.M. Wafar|year= 2000|work= |publisher= 9 ICRS, BALI] Sea grasses: [http://gombrtrust.org/seagrass.htm photo gallery]

Fauna

Vertebrates

Dugong, a vulnerable marine mammal is the flagship mammal of the park. It is an important habitat for the Cetaceans: Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin, finless porpoise, spinner dolphin and common dolphin.cite web |url= http://www.cetaceanhabitat.org/find_mpa1.php|title= Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park|accessdate=2007-10-15 |author= Wells|year= 1995|work=Cetacean habitat directory for MPAs, national and international sanctuaries |publisher= Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society]

510 (23%) of the 2,200 fin fish species in Indian waters are found in the Gulf, making it the most highly diverse fish habitat in India. Coral associated ornamental fishes belonging to the family Chaetodontidae, (butterfly fish); Parrotfish; Amphiprion spp (clown fish), Holocentrus spp ( [squirrel fish), Scarus spp (parrot fish), Lutjanus spp (snappers) and Abudefduf saxatilis (sergeant Major) are abundant.cite web |url= http://www.fao.org/docrep/X5627E/x5627e06.htm The Gulf of Mannar|title= Coral Reefs of India: Review of Their Extent, Condition, Research and Management Status|accessdate= 2007-10-15|author= Hoon Vineeta|year= 1997|work= |publisher= FAO, Regional Workshop on the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Coral Reefs]

A unique endemic species of Balanoglossus - Ptychodera fluva, a living fossil that links invertebrates and vertebrates, has been recorded only at Kurusadai.

Invertebrates

4 species each of shrimp and lobster, 106 species of crab, 17 species of sea cucumber, and 466 species of mollusc including 271 gastropods, 174 bivalves, 5 polyplacophorans, 16 cephalopods and 5 scaphopods [Patterson J.K.] , 108 species of sponge, and 100 species of echinoderm occur in the Gulf.cite web |url= http://www.gefweb.org/Documents/Project_Proposals_for_Endorsem/PP_Archives/INDIA_Mannar.pdf|title=Project Document - "Conservation and Sustainable-use of the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve’s Coastal Biodiversity" |accessdate= 2007-10-15|author= UNDP |month= January | year= 2001|work= |publisher= United Nations Development Programme, Global Environment Facility|format=PDF]

The coral fauna includes 106 species from 30 genus of hermatypes and 11 species from 10 genus of ahermatypes, including 13 new species, giving a total of 117 species from 14 families and 40 genus. The reefs in this area are narrow fringing reefs located 150 to 300 m. from the shore of the islands and patch reefs rising up from depths of 2 to 9 m. and extending up to 2 km. long and 50 m. wide. Large areas of these reefs are in generally poor condition due to destructive human activities of the 150,000 persons living along the coast. Nutrient and other pollution loads are high due to agriculture, deforestation, industry, urbanization and septic pollution. It appears that the Coral reefs of the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park seem to be healthy and in good condition, despite high rates of sedimentation and other threats. [Edward J. K Patterson, Mathews Edward G., Patterson Jamilla, Wilhelmsson Dan, Tamelander Jerjer, Linden Olaf (April 2007) Coral Reefs of The Gulf of Mannar, Southeastern India-Distribution, Diversity and Status, special Research Publication # 12, Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute, J.K. Patterson Edward, Director, 44 Beach Road, Tuticorn, Tamil Nadu, 628001 India [www.sdmri.org] ] However, live coral cover is only about 35%. Various algae cover much of the dead coral. [Venkataswaran Dr. V (January 2000) Status Survey of Gulf of Mannar Coral Reefs, Marine Biological Station, Zoological Survey of India, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt. of India, 100 San Thome High Road, Chennai, India, 600028]

Stony coral species belonging to Poritidae and Faviidae sub orders constitute the dominant reef builders here. Coral reefs near some of the islands have been heavily damaged by exploitation as raw materials for industrial ventures such as cement industries, brick manufacture, masonry work and lime kilns. Though legal quarrying of the reefs is now stopped, up to 250 m3/day of reef were destroyed for many years. cite web |url= http://www.forests.tn.nic.in/WildBiodiversity/br_gmmnp.html|title= Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park|accessdate=2007-10-14 |author= |year= 2007|work= Ecologically Important Areas of Tamil Nadu Coast|publisher= Tamil Nadu Forest Department]

Corals images gallery: [http://gombrtrust.org/corals.htm #1] , [http://www.reefindia.org/coralpic.htm #2] .

Habitation

The islands are uninhabited except for Krusadai, Musal and Nallathanni islands where antipoaching sheds are operating.cite web |url= http://www.nbaindia.org/docs/ncb_jan_06_11.pdf|title= BIODIVERSITY AND BIOLOGY OF MARINE ORNAMENTAL REEF FISHES OF GULF OF MANNAR –PARROTFISHES (FAMILY: SCARIDAE)|accessdate=2007-10-14 |author= V.K.Venkataramani and N. Jayakumar|year= 2007|work= |publisher= Fisheries College and Research Institute, Tamilnadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Thoothukudi|format=PDF] Along the coast near the park there are about 125 villages which support about 100,000 people who are mainly Marakeyars, a local Community principally engaged in fishing., cite web |url= http://www.reefbase.org/gefll/pdf/Gulf%20of%20Mannar%20-%20APR%202006.pdf|title= Annual Project review, Conservation and sustainable use of the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve’s Coastal Biodiversity|accessdate=2007-10-16 |author= UNDP GOMBR|month= October | year= 2006|work= UNDP GEF APR/PIR 2006 - BIODIVERSITY (1 July 2005 to 30 June 2006)|publisher= UNDP|format=PDF]

Visitor Information

Glass bottomed boats available at Mandapam cater to tourists visiting the area. Access to the Islands is prohibited.

The nearest railway stations are at Mandapam and Tuticorin. Contact: S. Shenbagamoorthy, the Wildlife Warden, Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve, Tamil Nadu Dept of Environment and Forests, Ramanathapuram, Ramanathapuram Dt., Tamil Nadu. Phone:04567-230079

Dr.V.K. Melkani, I.F.S. is Chief Conservator of Forests and Director of Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve Trust (GOMBRT), 366, Vandikara Street, Solaikili Towers, Ramanathapuram 623 501, Tamil Nadu. Phone: 04567-226 335, Fax: 04567 -229 228, [http://gombrtrust.org/contact.htm E-mail:] gombrt_rnd@yahoo.co.in

Notes

References

*GULF OF MANNAR BIOSPHERE TRUST
** [http://trbaalu.nic.in/minister/speech/2000/dec1600a.html SPEECH OF THIRU. T.R. BAALU, HONORABLE UNION MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT AND FORESTS, GOVERNMENT OF INDIA]
*Conservation and Sustainable-use of the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve’s Coastal Biodiversity, UNDP
** [http://www.gefweb.org/wprogram/May99/Bio/India_1.doc Fact Sheet - October, 2006]
** [http://data.undp.org.in/factsheets/ene/may07/GoMBRT.pdf Fact Sheet - May, 2007]
* [http://www.sdmri.org/reports/Turtle.pdf| Sea turtles and their Conservation]


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