It had been a dream of mine to see the mangroves since learning about their importance in coastal defence in my lectures and blogging about them. This winter my family and I had the brilliant opportunity to go to the Tamil Nadu Backwaters to see the mangroves of the east coast of south India- at Pichavaram.
“Pichavaram is known for its unique mangrove ecosystem, found in areas such as the Sunder bans in West Bengal and in Australia. The mangroves are trees rooted in a few feet of water and the whole area stretches to over 3,000 acres comprising more than 1,700 islets. Pichavaram consists of a number of islands interspersing a vast expanse of water and covered with green trees. The area is about 2800 acres and is separated from the sea by a sand bar, which is a patch of extraordinary loveliness. To a botanist, rare species like Avicennia and Rhizophora will present a special attraction; to a zoologist, no doubt, the sight of numerous birds like Water snipes, Cormorants, Egrets, Storks, Herons, Spoonbills and Pelicans holds great interest. Of around eighty species worldwide, Pichavaram is home to 14 species, chief among them being Avicennia and Rhizophoro. The Pichavaram swamps are one of the healthiest occurrences in the world, and act as a nursery for a variety of finfish and shell fish. They also effectively demonstrated their role as a bio-shield in the recent Indian Ocean Tsunami; there was no loss of life in communities living next to the mangroves.” (Tamil Nadu Tourism)
We also took the opportunity to visit the Centre of Advanced Study in Marine Biology of Annamalai University, where they very kindly offered us a tour of their centre. The centre has a fascinating zoology museum and a long history of training over 600 PhD students as well as study of the mangroves and also deep sea organisms off the Indian coast.
A wonderful experience- a special thank you to my family and the Annamalai university for the tour!