Gujarat, one of the most popular states in North-west India invites a number of tourists from every nook and corner of India. Oodles of tourists do answer to the call and come here to enjoy the perennial beauty. Parks and wildlife sanctuaries are some of the most significant and beautiful tourist spots. These are the places where one can unite with Nature while knowing a lot about the richness of wildlife of the country. Marine sanctuary and marine national park is a famous wildlife attraction in Gujarat. To be acquainted with the aquatic plants and animals really becomes a pleasure for the wildlife enthusiasts.
What are Marine sanctuaries or national parks?
Marine national parks, as the term literally suggests, are protected areas of sea. The word 'Marine' pertains to sea and hence the national parks or sanctuaries that protect and conserve the marine life- plants, animals and habitats are known as Marine national park or sanctuaries. Generally within these protected areas, all forms of recreational and commercial water activities and sea-based fishing like spearing and use of traps are banned.
Here follows a brief detail about the Marine sanctuary and national park in Gujarat.
This national park is the first marine park of India. It was set up in the year 1982 under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 of India in order to preserve the aquatic life, coral reefs and mangroves in the Junagadh District in the Gulf of Kutch.
Area and location:
An archipelago of 42 islands in the Gulf of Kutch falls under the protected area. These islands display the best of Indian aquatic life. Located on the southern shore of the Gulf of Kutch in the Jamnagar District of Gujarat, it covers a total area of 162.89 sq km. An area of 270 sq. km. from Okha to Jodiya was declared as Marine sanctuary in 1982 and after two years a core area of 110 sq. km. was declared as the Marina national park.
The Marine sanctuary and Marine national park houses a wide variety of coral reef ecosystem and mangrove plantation. There are 6 species of mangrove in the park which provide shelter to the water and shore birds. These mangrove are instrumental in checking soil erosion. Avicennia alba, Avicennia officianalis, Avicennia marina, Rhizophora mucronata, Aegiceros corniculata, Ceriops tagal, etc. are some of the major attractions. Others are Sesam, Limda and Kheru.
There are many avian species like egrets, spoonbills, ibises, ducks, little cormorants, gulls, etc. that will really allure you. If you are looking for wild animals, you wouldn't be disheartened as you would get to see world's Chowrashingha, four-horned Antelope, Dugong which is a kind of a seal and the largest herd of blackjacks here. Eels, turtles, sponge, shrimp, sea urchin can also be found.
Important information about biodiversity:
This national park in Gujarat consists of 108 species of algae, 70 species of sponges, 27 species of prawns, 175 species of birds, 3 of mammals, 30 of crabs, 200 of fishes and 56 species of corals that include both soft and hard corals.
When to visit?
The weather remains pleasant almost throughout the year. October to March remains the best period to visit the sanctuary.
The nearest airport is at Jamnagar and the nearest railhead is also at the same place. Buses ply regularly to the national park to from Jamnagar. So you will not have any problem as regards communication.
Visiting some more places:
There are a number of temples, fortified towers and museums in Jamnagar. You can visit Bala Hanuman Temple, Dwarkadhish Temple, Vardhaman Shah's Temple, Towers of Mandvi and Pancheshwar, etc. Solarium, the revolving tower which is one-of-its-kind structure in Asia is also worth a visit.
It is very unfortunate that the fragile ecosystem of the marine national park has been under the threat of extraction of corals and sand by cement industries. The ecosystem is also disturbed by the increase in the turbidity of water, chemical industries, oil refineries and motorized fishing boats.
The Marine sanctuary and Marine national park has been included amongst the significant national parks of the world by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). So go there for an all together different experience.