The first “Dugong Conservation Reserve” in the country has been declared at Palk Bay in Tamil Nadu.
On Sept 21, 2022, Palk Bay would become the first “Dugong Conservation Reserve” in the country. With a total area of 448 square kms, the region includes the coastal waters of the Thanjavur and Pudokottai districts.
What Are Dugongs?
- The dugong dugon is also known as a sea cow.
- They are grey-coloured marine mammals with streamlined bodies.
- IUCN STATUS ( International Union for Conservation of Nature) – Vulnerable
- Dugongs are reported in India in the Gulf of Mannar, The Gulf of Kutch, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- Tamil Nadu has established India’s first dugong conservation reserve is in the Gulf of Mannar
- The biggest herbivorous marine animal, dugongs primarily live off the seagrass meadows.
- The Wild Life (Protection) Act of 1972’s Schedule 1 provides protection for dugongs.
- Due to habitat loss, the species are at the verge of extinction. Therefore, it is of vital importance, to prevent the loss of dugongs and their environment.
- It is the only living organism of the once-diverse family Dugongidae.
- In its habitat, which stretches throughout the waters of up to 40 nations and territories in the Indo-West Pacific, the dugong is the sole sirenian species.
It is to be noted that Tamil Nadu features 14 coastal districts, a 1076 km long coastline, and a rich and healthy marine biosphere.
There are also numerous species of turtles and unusual, endangered fish living here. The state government made its decision to create the reserve in the year 2021.
Dugong Conservation Reserve Importance
- To save the endangered dugong species and its marine habitats in Tamil Nadu.
- There are currently about 240 dugongs in India, with the majority of them being located along the coast of Tamil Nadu.
- Dugong protection would help preserve and develop seagrass beds, which serve as spawning and feeding grounds for numerous fish and other marine animals.
- Dugong conservation will increase atmospheric carbon sequestration and helps in preserving and enhancing seagrass habitats.
- Seagrass beds act as the breeding and feeding grounds for a variety of marine creatures that are useful commercially.
- Thus, the habitats of dugongs directly support the livelihoods of thousands of fishers and their families.