A fish species in missing evolutionary link traced

These have special features; they can live on land and in water

CUDDALORE: A rare fish species called “mudskippers” have been recorded by researchers of the Centre for Advanced Study in Marine Biology of Annamalai University at Parangipettai estuary near here.

A rare fish species found in the Vellar estuary at Parangipettai in Cuddalore district

These tiny species, measuring just 67 mm in length and weighing 22 mg, have got special features which enable them to live both on land and in water. Called ‘vaetti uluvai’ in Tamil, they are the missing link between fishes and amphibians in the evolutionary ladder, according to T. Balasubramanian, Director of the Centre.

He told The Hindu that during the survey conducted recently in the Vellar estuary at Parangipettai near here under the University Grants Commission-supported project on gobiid fishes the researchers identified a mudskipper variety, Periophthalmus variabilis.

The Director said the species were aptly called mudskippers because they had mudflats as their habitat and had the habit of skipping or hopping around. The fish had got protruding rounded eyes that could move in all directions.

Its pectoral fins resembled more of the forelimbs of frogs, with which it attains mobility and climbs on to vegetations. Mr. Balasubramanian further said that the fish digs burrows in mudflats that have a gentle slope towards the sea and have a depth of up to one-and-half metre.

During high tide, the burrows would get filled with seawater and during low tide the waves would withdraw, allowing to make its appearance, he added.

Principal Investigator V.Ravi, also Assistant Professor in the Centre, said mudskippers played an important role in the food chain. They feed on fish eggs, nematodes, smaller crabs and insects, and, are, in turn, food for birds and otters. Mr. Ravi said mudskippers would lay eggs within the burrows and male fishes would oxygenate the eggs by blowing air. The eggs would not get washed away because they had an adhesive filament that made them stick to the walls of the burrows. This sensitive creature would swirl in the burrows at the very sight of a predator.

The mudskippers have medicinal quality and are being used as a remedy for anaemia and to prevent frequent urination in children.

Mr. Ravi observed that in China, South Korea and Japan the mudskippers were cultured extensively for food and the Centre would evolve a suitable strategy for its proliferation through captive breeding.

A.V. Ragunathan – From THE HINDU

Rs 1 crore for water supply works in Cuddalore

CUDDALORE: A sum of Rs. 1 crore has been sanctioned from the Natural Disaster Funds for undertaking works for improving water supply in panchayats, Town Panchayats and Municipalities in Cuddalore district, according to P.Seetharaman, Collector.

In a statement here on Saturday, the Collector has directed officials to complete the works within 45 days.


Aid for marine ornamental fish breeding

CUDDALORE: The Asian Development Bank has sanctioned a sum of Rs. 36.2 lakh for implementing the marine ornamental fish breeding scheme in four coastal villages of Cuddalore district, according to Collector P. Seetharaman.

In a statement released here, Mr. Seetharaman said that villages such as Velingirayanpettai, Periyakuppam, Parangipettai and Thammanampettai had been identified for the purpose.

A memorandum of understanding had been signed with the Annamalai University, Chidambaram, for imparting training.

At least 10 persons, either members of self-help groups or others, in each village would be selected for undergoing the training in marine ornamental fish breeding, Mr. Seetharaman said.

Fish lings would be obtained from the Marine Fisheries Research Centre located near Mandapam in Rameswaram district. People of these villages had come forward to donate either a building or a vacant site measuring 1,200 sq.ft., for conducting the training programme. Fish breeding would fetch a monthly income of Rs 5,000 per head, the Collector said.


Cuddalore: Integrated water supply scheme soon for three village

CUDDALORE: If there are places of worship, primary health centres and school buildings on the lands acquired by the Neyveli Lignite Corporationm the latter will be asked to rebuild those structures on alternative sites, according to P.Seetharaman, District Collector.

He was responding to the queries posed by the land providers in the Uyyakondaravi village near here at a Mass Contact Programme on Thursday.

The Collector said that the villagers demanded suitable compensation for the land, jobs for their wards and irrigation facility for the nearby farms.

The Collector promised them to take up these issues with the NLC management. He said that an integrated water supply scheme would be implemented soon to benefit Uyyakondaravi, Vadapaadhi and Seplanatham. He distributed assistance worth Rs 9.80 lakh to 131 beneficiaries on the occasion.

Bus services

At the mass contact programme held at Maiyanur near Villupuram, District Collector R.Palanisamy assured the people to improve bus services and explore the feasibility of setting up one more fair price shop there.


Fishes found dead along Cuddalore coastline

CUDDALORE: The six-km coastal stretch from Chithiraipettai to Rasapettai, near here, was found littered with dead fishes on Monday evening.

Sad sight: Dead fishes, swollen and deformed with rashes all over body, were washed ashore in Cuddalore on Tuesday. — Photo: C. Venkatachalapathy

Strong odour from the putrefying fishes prompted the Village Administrative Officer to alert the Fisheries Department and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board.

The swollen and deformed fishes with rashes all over the body were found strewn along the coastline villages of Chithiraipettai, Sothikuppam, Nochikadu, Thammanampettai and Rasapettai.

T. Devanathan (50), a resident of Nochikadu, told this correspondent that such a mass of fishes washed ashore was an unusual sight. The fishes had their fins and skins peeled off and blotch of blood frozen on their body.

He identified the fish species as ‘keluthi’ (cat fish), ‘vanjiram,’ ‘paarai,’ ‘keechan’ ‘kanankathai’ and sea cat, with ‘keluthi’ having suffered the most.

General Secretary of the Consumer Federation Tamil Nadu M. Nizamudeen said that the dead fishes were seen on the shoreline between the common effluent treatment plant of the SIPCOT industrial estate and the jetty of a private chemical company. It was for the officials to conduct a proper enquiry and laboratory tests to take necessary remedial and punitive measures. District Environmental Engineer (TNPCB) D. Sekar, and Assistant Director of Fisheries R. Ilamparithi, who inspected the spot.

A.V.Ragunathan From THE HINDU

Tamilnadu: Paddy harvest on 75,000 acres has been stalled

Farmers’ association vice-chief blames shortage of manpower

CUDDALORE: Shortage of manpower has stalled paddy harvest on 75,000 acres in the tail-end delta region of Kattumannarkoil and Chidambaram blocks, according to V. Kannan, vice-president of Cauvery Delta Farmers’ Association.

He told The Hindu that harvest in 50 per cent of the total of 1.5 lakh acres under paddy was affected or was not taking place at all for want of adequate farm hands. The belated harvest would not only reduce the yield but also the quality of grains.

During normal time, the average paddy yield per acre would be 1.25 tonne, but the delayed harvest would cut down the yield prospects by 20 per cent. Therefore, it would lead to an economic stress on farmers. For every acre, at least 20 workers would be required for 10-15 days to harvest the paddy and thrash out the grains. But, it was almost impossible to find so many labourers because youth detest farm jobs, Mr. Kannan said.

They were not inclined to work in fields from morning to evening for meagre wages and opting for jobs in the better-paid construction industry. The average age of farm worker was now 50 years and above and, therefore, productivity expected could not be high. Harvesting machinery too was in short supply, Mr. Kannan said. Even if available, the rent or hire charges were high. A farmer would have to shell out Rs. 1,050 to Rs. 1,900 an hour for hiring a tyre harvester and Rs. 1,400 to Rs. 1,900 an hour for chain harvester.

For lack of alternative solution, even small farmers having less than four acres would have to engage the machinery. Mr. Kannan opined that such a situation would force the farmers to quit farming.

The situation has to be reversed or it would affect food availability and market prices of essential commodities.


Cuddalore: Where elephant has a field day

After the Pongal festival, it has extended its sojourn for two days

CUDDALORE: A pachyderm in transit that had come to stay in Cuddalore for the Pongal festival has extended its sojourn for two more days, till Tuesday, to regale the participants of the River Festival held on the banks of the Pennaiyar here.

Festive spirit: An elephant blessing people of all age groups, at the Pennaiyar in Cuddalore on Monday. — Photo: C. Venkatachalapathy

The privately owned female elephant named Shyamala Devi, aged 35 years, has become a favourite of children here who trail its majestic steps .

Parents, who want their wards to grow up brave, allow them to have an elephant-ride, of course, for a fee and with palpitating hearts.

In the past few days, mahout Sudhagaran (28) has made a handful collection by taking around the animal. It has been so trained to “bless” the people with its uplifted trunk in a gentle manner – from infants to adults – and collect a few coins or currency notes to be faithfully handed over to the mahout.

On Sunday, the animal had a fruitful stroll on the sands of the Silver Beach and on Monday it made a pretty pie on the banks of the Pennaiyar. En route, it attracted the households and passersby who generously provided it with bananas, sugarcane and bucketful of water.

Mr. Sudhagaran and two of his assistants are on their way from Kumbakonam to Vikkiravandi “to felicitate” a wedding.

He told TheHindu that up to Chidambaram the elephant travelled in a truck and from there it languorously walked its way to Cuddalore, a distance of 50 km, for a week.

Because of the age factor, it can cover only five-seven km a day and more over it had to make many sorties on the way or in other words making trips with children on its back. At home, it cherished rice cakes but while on tour it has to be content with coconut fronds, foliage of the roadside trees and scoops of beaten rice or aval.

For the night, it makes itself comfortable under any greenwood trees. It is mostly sought after during temple festivals and weddings of affluent sections and on such occasions it is fed sumptuously and rewarded handsomely.

Mr. Sudhagar says that the elephant obeys his commands dutifully because he has been growing with it since its birth. But he cannot be sure whether he can handle another tusker the same way as he does Shyamala Devi.