Deep blue diving

Tracing conservations efforts across India’s coastline and what you can do to help

Published: 15th June 2019 10:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th June 2019 10:07 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

In the last 25 days, the beaches in Dakshina Kannada were littered with corpses of 28 turtles and nine dolphins enough to get the attention of conservationists too, who are now focusing increasingly on ocean conservation. Those who love the deep blue seas and the rich biodiversity, aim to increase awareness on conserving our oceans, which more often than not is the dumping ground for everything from industrial waste to non-biodegradable plastic — responsible for choking the marine life to death.

Simply put, the onus of saving the oceans lies with every single citizen, who can play an active role, by not littering the coastline when they visit a beach, or picking up litter from ocean beds while diving. With ‘ethical tourism’ being the buzzword, we take a look at some of the conversation efforts.

Due to the latest turn of events in Dakshina Karnataka, Bengaluru-based Shantanu Kalambi, a veterinarian with Reef Watch India, is busy working with the state government to set up a Marine Megafauna Stranding Response Network for the Karnataka coast. “The comprehensive action plan includes educating children and fishermen, and working with the Forest and Fisheries Department,” says the conservationist.
“All we have now is a WhatsApp group, where a bunch of volunteers stay in touch and report cases. The new system we are creating will help people report emergency cases faster.”

Currently, Kalambi and his team are driving down the coast handing out flyers and posters to spread awareness. Interestingly, Kalambi reveals that the government has drawn up guidelines for marine conservation. “The Forest and Fisheries Department have now been asked to create a Marine Cell, which will help them understand specific duties,” he adds.

Walk the talk
Chennai-based Dr Supraja Dharini, who works with the TREE Foundation, has dedicated the last two decades of her life to protect the Olive Ridley turtle. “We tell people to keep the beaches clean; as Olive Ridleys only hatch on the beach they were born. If they do not find the shore, they most often die,” says the Founder, adding that since the 1970s, the number of Olive Ridley turtles have reduced by 90 per cent. So she instituted the Integrated Community-based Conservation Programme in 2002, with the aim of conserving Olive Ridley nesting sites. Every year, right before nesting season, 100s of volunteers gather to ensure the coastline is litter-free.

A friend indeed
A scuba-diving programme is Thiruvananthapuram-based org Friends of Marine Life’s latest approach to align marine research and ancient wisdom. By exploring and clearing the sea beds, volunteers of this NGO are focussed on conserving marine life. “Most studies are conducted in lab environments and detached from the natural habitats,” says the 57-year-old Founder Robert Panipilla. Currently receiving advanced level training –which would equip them to dive beyond 30 metres depth – seashore dwellers can even provide aid during disasters if imparted with rescue training.

What lies beneath
For Mumbai-based Pawan Shourie, Founder, West Coast Adventures, deep sea diving is more than just a hobby. He has been taking his love for scuba diving to the next level by encouraging people to clean the ocean bed every time they dive into it. With dive shops in Mumbai, Goa and Karnataka, Pawan’s team of PADI, SSI divers take enthusiasts diving near the Netrani Island close to Murudeshwar and Kapu in Udipi. Pawan is a firm believer in ‘responsible diving’. “I encourage people to start by doing simple things like collect small plastic they find during their dive,” says the 45-year-old scuba diver.


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