Tatsat Chronicle Magazine

Scuba Divers Clean Up Coral Reefs Off The Coast Of Tamil Nadu As Part Of Mission Life

May 20, 2023
LiFE_Scuba Divers

NCSCM Scuba Divers organised an underwater clean-up along the Munaikadu, a coastal village located in the Palk Bay region of the state of Tamil Nadu, as part of the Lifestyle for the Environment (LiFE) movement in the run-up to the World Environment Day on June 5.

Palk Bay is a shallow body of water that lies between the southeastern coast of India and the northern coast of Sri Lanka. It is a part of the larger Palk Strait, which connects the Bay of Bengal in the northeast with the Gulf of Mannar in the southwest.

Palk Bay is ecologically significant and supports a diverse range of marine life, including various species of fish, crustaceans, and sea turtles. The region is also known for its coral reefs and seagrass beds, which provide important habitats for marine organisms. The village is predominantly inhabited by fishermen who rely on the rich marine resources of Palk Bay for their livelihood. However, Palk Bay faces several environmental challenges in recent years, including marine litter.

On the clean-up drive, NCSCM scientists went scuba diving in coral reefs and seagrass meadows to clear the plastic debris in the coral reefs. Along with the NCSCM team, fishermen, boat owners, and seaweed cultivators, including women, joined in the effort to remove marine debris from the ecologically sensitive seagrass and coral reef ecosystems.

About 25 local fishermen participated in this event, and the Scuba divers recovered 15kg of ghost nets, the rest being single-use plastics and packaging. This public outreach campaign was focused on improving ocean health through collective action by the local community.

Seagrass beds are important marine habitats that provide shelter, food, and breeding grounds for numerous species. They also help stabilise the seafloor, improve water quality, and sequester carbon dioxide. Scuba divers involved in this seagrass and coral reef cleaning, removed marine debris, including plastic bags, fishing nets, and other litter, which can smother seagrass and corals, leading to their decline.

As part of the awareness drive, NCSCM staff sensitised the fishing community on the need to live environmentally responsible lives and to conserve marine life and the marine environment. They agreed to practice ecologically friendly farming and responsible fishing after having gained an understanding of the Mission LiFE themes through this awareness event. This event trained the fisherfolk in a comprehensive manner about their environment, biodiversity, habitat, and the need to live in harmony with nature. Placards and pamphlets were displayed on the beach as part of this event. NCSCM staff described Mission LiFE to the local fishing community.