Written by Jhilik Chakraborty.
A marine park is a park consisting of an area of sea (or lake) sometimes protected for recreational use, but more often set aside to preserve a particular habitat and ensure the ecosystem is sustained for the organisms that exist there.
A marine park is a type of Marine Protected Area(MPA). An MPA is a section of the ocean where a government has placed limits on human activity. Marine parks are multiple-use MPAs, meaning they have different types of activities.
Marine parks usually allow recreational activities, such as boating, snorkelling, and sport fishing. Most marine parks also include zones for commercial fishing, sometimes called open zones.
They may also include no-take zones, which prohibit extractive activities, such as fishing, mining and drilling. Marine parks are very similar to local parks on land.
They are used by the community and often have facilities to encourage their use. They also face many of the same problems as parks on land: overuse and pollution.
India boasts of several marine national parks which are hotspots of biodiversity and home to a number of marine creatures including Olive Ridley sea turtles, saltwater crocodiles and medium-sized marine mammals known as Dugong.
Water Sanctuaries of India includes Bhitarkanika National Park, Sundarbans National Park, and Rani Jhansi National Park. These are swamp or large mangrove forest in India.
Rani Jhansi Marine National park is located in Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal.
In this post we will look at the top marine national parks of India:-
1. Gulf Of Kutch Marine National Park
Marine National park in the Gulf of Kutch is situated on the southern shore of the gulf in the Devbhumi Dwarka district of Gujrat.
It is the first national marine park of India with 42 islands out of which 33 islands have coral reefs on the Jamnagar coast in the Marine National Park surrounded by reefs.
Marine National Park is the first National park in India. The Gulf of Kutch, located on the west coast of India is an arm of the Arabian Sea and separates the Saurashtra peninsula from the Great and Little Rann of Kutch.
It is about 58 km wide on the seaward (western) side, and 170 km on the eastern side. Gulf of Kutch declared a (protected area ) wildlife sanctuary in 1980.
The sanctuary lies in the intertidal zone, between the lowest and the highest tide levels, the area that lies below water in high tide, and is exposed during low tide.
The international union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN)has declared this Park as a category II area in the list of nations of the world.
Some of the best-known islands are Pirotan, Karubhar, Narara, Positra. There are islands with sandy beaches and mangrove swamps.
These islands are a treasure –trove of marine species and a paradise for birdwatchers. Major ecosystem types available are coral reefs, mangroves, mudflats, creeks, Seagrass and Seaweeds, estuaries, sandy strands to saline grasslands, marshy areas and rocky shores.Types of species are sea mammal,sponges ,fishes ,prawns,crabs,molluscs,sea turtles etc.
2. Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park
Mahatma Gandhi Marine National park is a national park of India in Wandoor on the Andaman Islands. It is situated 29 km from Port Blair.
The park is located on the Southwestern coast of South Andaman, in the Bay of Bengal. The total area of the park is 281.5 sq km. After the tsunami happened in 2004 the park was closed for rehabilitation, but it reopened, the park did not cause great damage.
Both Redskin and Jolly Buoy islands are open during the season. The best season to visit this park is from November to May. The area includes a vast stretch of enchanting marine waters, bushy vegetated islands, magnificent coral reefs and sparkling sandy beaches and mangroves.
Rich marine life consists of a variety of coral reefs and sparkling sandy beaches and mangroves. Rich marine life consists of a variety of coral reefs, colourful fishes, mollusc, shells, starfish, turtles, saltwater crocodile etc.
One can also view a variety of birds like White –Bellied Sea Eagle, Parakeets, Andaman Teal, Heron, Terns, Waders, Swifts etc.
3. Sundarban National Park
The Sundarban National Park is a tiger and biosphere reserve located in the Sundarbans delta in the state of West Bengal (India).
The Sundarbans is made after the Sundari trees which are found in bulk in this area. The park was established as a natural park on 4th may 1984 as earlier it was created as a wildlife sanctuary in 1977, designated as the core area of Sundarbans Tiger Reserve.
The park extends in an area of 1355 km most preferably visited in the month of September and May. One can see amazing and powerful royal Bengal tigers taking a sunbath on the river banks during winters.
The other chief wildlife species present in this park are Macaques, Indian grey mongoose, leopard cats, Ridley sea turtle, Wild boar, Jungle cat, fox, flying fox, fishing cats, chital, pangolin and many others.
4. Gulf Of Mannar Marina National Park
Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park consists of 21 small islands and coral reefs in the Gulf of Mannar in the Indian ocean of Tamil Nadu.
The park has a high diversity of plants and animals in its marine and shore habitats, Dugong, a vulnerable marine mammal also found here. When it comes to marine biodiversity, it boasts of being one of the wealthiest areas.
Not only does the park have three aquatic eco-systems, which are the coral reef, seagrass and mangroves, but it is also home to salt marshes and specific algal communities. The different estuaries, beaches and forests in the park further heighten its beauty and showcase nature in all its glory.
Occupying a total area of 6.23 square kilometres, the Gulf of Mannar National Park is the first biosphere reserve to have been established in the country in the year 1980.
At the same time, the park also forms part of the third largest of the world’s oceanic divisions which is the Indian ocean. Since all the 21 islands of the Gulf of Mannar National Park come under the Marine National Park sphere, tourism and related activities are restricted here.
Public access and participation inside the park is limited to glass-bottom boat rides. Nevertheless, a visit to this park is a must to enjoy the bounties of nature and to view some of her marvellous creations.
5. Malvan Marine Wildlife Sanctuary
Maharashtra is proud of this sanctuary, one of the richest coastal regions in India, brought on the world map in 1987. Its crystal clear water is the favourite to the extremely rich coastal species that are unique to the region like sea anemones, molluscs, polychaetes, pearl oyster, corals, seaweed and mangroves.
Malvan is beautiful and intriguing inside out. Somewhere like it’s riveting deep underwater secrets with a beautiful view. The sanctuary is 29.22 square kilometres.
One can also find some bird species which can be rarely found. The prominent marine species which are found are black-headed gulls, plovers, waterfowls, ducks, egrets, molluscs, pearl oysters, dolphins, Labeo-dero etc.
While visiting Malvan Marine Sanctuary, one can also embark on excursions to nearby tourist destinations like the Sindhudurg Fort, and the golden sandy beaches of Tondavali, Tarkarli and Vengurala, which lie at a distance of 10 km from the sanctuary area.
6. Rani Jhansi Marina National Park
Rani Jhansi Marine National Park established in the year 1996 is located in Ritchie’s Archipelago which is a cluster of several small islands. The languages spoken here are Nicobarese, Bengali, English, Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu as these islands are frequented by South Indian locals.
The islands have little or farmland and majorities of the people living here depend on tourism to sustain themselves. The natural habitats of the park include lagoons, coral reefs, beaches, lowland evergreen rain forest, semi-evergreen rain forest and mangrove forests.
The main attraction of this park is the fruit-eating bat. This fruit-eating bat plays an important part in maintaining the ecological balance of the park as it both a pollinator and seed disperser to plants.
The park is famous for crocodiles and dugong are also seen along with other wildlife. The park also has on display a coral reef, marine life and avifauna.
It is the combination of three islands-Henry Lawrence Island, John Lawrence Island and Outram Island. The months from January to April are comparatively dry.
So, these are the best picturesque marine national parks of India that must be on your wish list. These places are perfect for water babies who want to explore life under the sea.
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