A drastic decline in the live coral cover in Lakshadweep has been reported, causing serious concern among researchers and naturalists.
K. Venkataraman, Director, Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), told The Hindu that the development came to light recently during a study. In the summer of 2010, bleaching took place in coral reefs areas in the country. But, those in the Kavaratti islands in Lakshadweep were badly affected by bleaching. This could be due to increased heat conditions, which was an indication of climate change, he said.
Till 2010, the live coral reef cover in the island was recorded at 27 per cent, which dropped to 11 per cent in the subsequent year because of the May 2010 bleaching.
Similarly, the dead coral rock population was estimated to be 21 per cent before the bleaching, which rose to 67 per cent after the incident, he said.
Dr. Venkataraman said: “Declining coral reef will result in fishermen’s catch going down drastically.
In India, 5 million tonnes of fish catch was reported annually, of which 3.75 tonnes were from marine ecosystems.
About a quarter of the total population lives along the coast and is dependent on the marine wealth, which provides the required protein for them.”
R. Rajkumar, Scientist, ZSI, said bleaching in coral reef areas across the world has become a common phenomenon after 1998. However, this time in Kavaratti island in Lakshadweep, an unprecedented bleaching took place, which led to the negative growth of coral colonies there. Apart from climate change, overexploitation and mindless mining of coral reef colonies led to degrading of coral reef. This will directly affect the fishes and other organisms found in there. Increased bleaching will further deteriorate the coral reef colonies, he said.
When asked about the mitigation and ameliorative measures by the local authorities in Lakshadweep, ZSI sources said so far no full-fledged restoration measures were taken. Another ZSI official pointed out that the local administration may not have the capacity to take up the ameliorative measures to restore the ecosystem in Kavaratti.