Environment

This game of beach bingo spreads awareness of Chennai’s seaside species

A horn-eyed ghost crab on a Chennai beach   | Photo Credit: M Yuvan by special arrangement

Another lockdown has begun, and people across Chennai are already missing their favourite beaches — not only for the sea and the sand, but also for a sight of the teeming little creatures that have made our shores their home.

This love for Chennai’s coastal species, is what a team of six from Madras Naturalists Society is counting on, in its long quest to raise awareness about the coastal biodiversity around Chennai. To that end, M Yuvan, Nanditha Ram Satagopan, Anooja Anil, Aswathi Asokan, Vikas Madhav and Rohith Srinivasan have come up not only with a large body of documentation, but also fun ways to spread awareness.

Among their latest attempts is a game of Beach Bingo. Illustrated by Anooja and designed by Nanditha, it is essentially a bingo sheet with drawings of 16 common beach sightings for people to tick off the next time they get a chance to visit the beach.

Says Anooja, “All six of us decided to create some tools of awareness. People can take this Bingo [sheet] to the beach and cross out what they see. Many of these are things people have seen on beaches before, without knowing what they are. This game will help them identify what they are seeing.”

This game of beach bingo spreads awareness of Chennai’s seaside species

Available free for download through a OneDrive link, the game features a mix of fauna, flora and man-made objects. A curious one among them is the sea tongue. According to Anooja, it is the “float” of a cuttlefish. “It is not the entire organism, but its internal shell, that can be commonly seen washed ashore on Chennai’s beaches.” Though Anooja has not seen one herself, her team mates have documented them. Based on their photographs, Anooja etched one out for the Bingo sheet.

There are other creatures, however, that she has seen herself and drawn from memory, like sunset siliqua shells and barnacles. Ghost nets — fishing nets that have been lost or left behind in the sea — and single-use plastics are also things she has seen, strewn across parts of most beaches. The mundane, however, goes hand in hand with the unusual along this coastline.

Anooja remembers the day she came across life in an unexpected place. “We once found a barnacle on an abandoned shoe. Barnacles are sessile or non-motile organisms, which means that they cannot move by themselves. They can be found anywhere, usually on rocks or other sturdy structures,” she says. But finding one on something as flimsy as a shoe was unique.

Eye spy (Clockwise from below) The beach bingo sheet; a murex; a horn-eyed ghost crab Nanditha Ram Satagopan, M Yuvan and special arrangement

Eye spy (Clockwise from below) The beach bingo sheet; a murex; a horn-eyed ghost crab Nanditha Ram Satagopan, M Yuvan and special arrangement   | Photo Credit: Nanditha Ram Satagopan by special arrangement

Another unassuming beauty to keep an eye out for is the sunset siliqua, a purple-white shell that takes second place in the top row of the sheet. “It is a bivalve,” explains Anooja, “Bivalves are related to snails, but while snails have one shell, bivalves have two. They are molluscs, and this sunset siliqua is a common one. It is very pretty to see on the beach.”

The beach bingo sheet can be downloaded from the link in the Instagram pages of Anooja Anil (@anooja.anil) and M Yuvan (@a_naturalists_column).


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Printable version | Jun 21, 2021 1:42:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/a-bingo-game-for-chennai-seaside-species/article34579672.ece

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