Scuba diving in ‘Andaman of Karnataka’ is now official
For those who wish to explore the coral and colourful aquatic life now have a brand new destination. The Netrani Island, also known as Pigeon Islands, located off Arabian coast in Murdeshwar town is n
NETRANI ISLAND: For those who wish to explore the coral and colourful aquatic life now have a brand new destination. The Netrani Island, also known as Pigeon Islands, located off Arabian coast in Murdeshwar town is now the newest tourist attraction of Karnataka.
The district administration has finally legalised diving activities here. Three companies — Netrani Adventures, West Coast Adventures and Dive Goa with internationally certified diving experts — have now been given licences to operate.
They are charging `5,000-`6,000 per person for diving. The session includes theory in a classroom and then underwater breathing practice, before one is allowed to sink in for diving. During peak season, diving rates will be `6,500, including 14.5 per cent service tax, snacks and photographs.
Divers are taken in a specialised boat meant for diving activities and all the trainers accompanying are certified diviners under PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors). This could be probably the first adventure sports, which meets all the safety guidelines prescribed by the international diving associations, in Karnataka.“It’s Andaman of Karnataka,” says Andrew N Stonebridge, the chief diving instructor.
“I have dived in many islands, but Netrani is unique because of fish abundance and coral beds. The sea bed has number of colourful coral reefs and dependent fish,” he adds.
Tourists, who come here from various places, are now demanding diving on regular basis. “I and my family enjoyed diving here and the island is worth visiting. We have seen different types of fishes, sea plants and many more that are shown on television. Safety measures and training sessions are good,” said Raviraj, a tourist from Bengaluru.
Located about 513 km from Bengaluru and 204 km from Hubballi, Netrani Islands have long been a rallying place for marine biologists and diving enthusiasts. Several diving clubs from Goa and coastal parts of Karnataka used to organise diving sessions without any permission from the district administration.
The Indian Navy, which has a base nearby (Seabird), has been using small islands like Netrani for target practices for several years. In 2007, the first ever scientific expedition organised by the local environmentalists found the rich coral bed around the island and ecologists went to the court against the Navy for bombing the island.