India’s first Dugong conservation reserve notified in Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu has notified the nation’s first “Dugong Conservation Reserve’ in Palk Bay. In the year 2021, the government announced its decision to set up the reserve.

Tamil Nadu notifies the nation first Dugong Conservation Reserve
Tamil Nadu notifies the nation first Dugong Conservation Reserve

Tamil Nadu has notified the nation’s first “Dugong Conservation Reserve’ in Palk Bay on September 21, 2022. The area covers the coastal waters of Thanjavur and Pudokottai districts with an area of 448 square kilometres.

Tamil Nadu has rich and healthy marine biodiversity with a long coastline of 1076 km and 14 coastal districts. Various rare and endangered fishes and turtle species also live here. In the year 2021, the government announced its decision to set up the reserve.

Dugong conservation reserve: Significance

  1. The “Dugong Conservation Reserve” is going to be established in the Palk Bay region to protect the endangered Dugong species and its marine habitats in Tamil Nadu.
  2. Currently, there are approx 240 Dugongs in India and most of them are found on the Tamil Nadu Coast.
  3. Protecting Dugongs would help improve and save the seagrass beds that are also the breeding and feeding grounds for many fishes and marine fauna. 

About the Dugongs

  1. Dugongs are the largest herbivorous marine mammals that basically thrive on seagrass beds. 
  2. Dugongs are safeguarded under Schedule 1 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
  3. The species’ population is in danger due to habitat loss. Hence, there is an immediate need to protect Dugongs and their habitat from degradation.
  4. It is the only living organism of the once-diverse family Dugongidae.
  5. The dugong is the only sirenian in its range, which spans the waters of almost 40 countries and territories throughout the Indo-West Pacific. 

Background

Conserving dugongs will help to save and improve seagrass beds and sequester more atmospheric carbon. For many commercially valuable fishes and marine fauna, seagrass beds are the breeding and feeding grounds. Hence, thousands of fishers and their families directly depend on dugong habitats for their living.

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