Noise levels affecting sea mammals

CHENNAI: “The underwater noise levels today are ten times more than they were a few decades ago, which is a serious worry for life on land and water because sustainable ocean space makes way for sustainable land space,” said S.K. Bhattacharya, Head, Department of Ocean Engineering, IIT Madras.

He was delivering a special lecture on ‘Acoustics’ for school students organised by the Tamil Nadu Science and Technology Centre in collaboration with Madras India Regional Chapter of the Acoustical Society of America and Acoustical Foundation here on Saturday.

S.K. Bhattacharya, Head, Department of Ocean Engineering, IIT-M, interacts with school students at a programme on acoustics in Chennai on Saturday. Founder of Acoustical Foundation H.S. Paul (second from right) is in the picture. — Photo: K..V.Srinivasan

Listing the various ill-effects of underwater noise pollution on marine mammals, Professor Bhattacharya said that anthropogenic noise due to activities like commercial shipping, Sound Navigation and Ranging (SONAR) activities and hydrocarbon-related engineering activities contributed a great deal in increasing the noise levels.

Marine mammals exposed to underwater noise pollution suffer from displacement, trauma, stranding, internal injuries, eye haemorrhaging, and sometimes even death, he added.

“The marine mammals exposed to Low Frequency Active Sonar (LFAS) above a certain level can sometimes face mass extinction,” he said.

The other significant activities detrimental to the sustenance of a healthy marine system, he added, were dredging, drilling and exploration, near shore construction and military activities on the sea.

On the various statutory bodies of seawater regulation, regulatory mechanisms on water and other environmental issues, Professor Bhattacharya said that the ocean taxonomy needed to be documented better.


Coastal villages grapple with sea erosion

With the government yet to come out with a comprehensive long-term solution for the continuing sea erosion, fishermen in the coastal villages of Vaithikuppam, Solai Nagar, Kuruchikuppam and Kalapet are anxious about their future.

Sea erosion in Shola Nagar affecting the livelihood of fishermen. Photo : T.Singaravelou

According to the fishermen, the erosion has badly affected the viability of their occupation. Tidal waves damage their boats constantly. With alternative arrangements for parking their boats elsewhere not available, they are forced to pull the boats further inshore to escape the havoc caused by the waves.

“Everytime we pull the boats further, there is some damage to the boats. We have to spend out of our pockets to repair them. With diminishing income from fishing, this is making our life miserable,” said Ramalingam, a fisherman from Solai Nagar. He also said that sometimes, their nets are washed away and the damage could go to the extent of Rs. 15000.

The fishermen said that they usually call up the Fisheries Department which sends cranes to lift the boats in case of seawater intrusion.

The fishermen also blamed the construction of the Thengaithittu harbour for their current state. Built in 1989, it now functions as the Puducherry Fishing Harbour.

According to experts, the two breakwaters that were constructed as part of the harbour construction stopped the natural movement of sand from south to north on the coast. Thus, the sand moved only in the northern direction, with no movement in the opposite direction to replenish it. This resulted in increased erosion of beaches.

Experts also pointed out that the Central Water Power and Research Station, Pune, had warned about the disruption to the ‘littoral drift’ when the harbour was constructed. As a remedy, a ‘sand bypass’ system was initiated and constant dredging was proposed to counter the loss of sand.

According to Elango, a fishermen leader, the problem of sea erosion was primarily owing to dredging work not being done efficiently. “Very little dredging is done. How do they expect to restore the beaches without carrying this out,” he asked

According to experts, close to four lakh cubic metres of sand has to be dredged annually but this has not been complied with. They said that instead of dredging, the government decided to use groynes and build a sea wall.

The experts said groynes are not the ideal solution as what is seen in Puducherry is a “structural erosion” and this requires soft measures such as sand bypassing and not hard measures.

“If you build a sea wall, the problem of erosion will only be transferred to the next village,” said Aurofilio Schiavina, a coastal environment expert, who is part of Pondy Citizen’s Action Network (PondyCAN), an NGO which deals with environment issues in the region. The problem is lack of sand and this has to be addressed immediately. “What you need is dumping of sand. But they are dumping rocks’” he said.

In 2008, the NGO filed a public interest litigation petition to stop the erection of groynes along the coast.

The fishermen want immediate construction of a groyne to help reclaim the beaches. Fishermen and experts though, agree that drastic measures with long term considerations are needed to save the coastal villages in Puducherry.

Sruthisagar Yamunan – From THE HINDU

Monsoon trawl ban to hit over 2,000 boats

KOCHI: The annual 47-day ban on fishing by trawl-fitted boats will take effect in Kerala’s territorial waters from the midnight of Monday (June 14-15), sending over 2,000 trawl boats into hibernation.

The ban will also be imposed along the entire Western Coast — Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka — simultaneously as the ban, started in Kerala nearly a quarter century ago, is now a national practice. It is aimed at facilitating the regeneration of fish stock. The restriction along the Eastern Coast is from April 15 to May 31. Of late, the Union government has imposed strict restrictions on boats fishing in India’s exclusive economic zone, extending over 200 nautical miles.

The curbs on fishing are only for boats as the Kerala government has exempted ‘valloms’ (canoes) used by traditional fishermen from the ban. They are free to catch pelagic fish such as oil sardine and mackerel in Kerala’s 22-km (12 nautical miles) territorial waters. There are about 2,200 trawl boats in Kerala. In peak seasons, about 1,000 boats from the Colachal area in Kanyakumari district in Tamil Nadu migrate to Kerala.

Though scientists say the curbs on fishing during the breeding season helps replenish the fish stocks, the All-Kerala Mechanised Boat Operators Association has for long held the view that it is “baseless, unscientific and emotion-based.” Joseph Xavier Kalappurackal, its leader, claimed that the curbs should have been imposed during the lean season not during the peak season.

This year’s ban comes at a time when fish prices rule very high. While up-end fish like seer fish fetch up to Rs.300 a kg, the common man’s fish of sardines are sold between Rs.40-60 and mackerel around Rs.100 a kg. Prawns, usually high-priced, fetch lower prices now.

Basheer From THE HINDU

Research on impact of sea level in coast

DINDIGUL: Gandhigram Rural University has undertaken a research study on the impact of sea level in the southern part of Tami Nadu owing to global warming.

The study would bring out information on the anticipated shift of high tide line and its probable impact on the coastal rural systems, said N. Narayanasamy, Registrar.

In a release here on Thursday, he said that the study was being undertaken with financial support from Space Application Centre-Indian Space Research Organisation. The ISRO had granted Rs.20 lakh to the university for the project.

Global warming and its triggered snow melt in Antarctica and Arctic regions were expected to raise the sea level to the tune of 0.48 metre to one metre in another 100 years.

It was a proven fact that the entire coastal eco-system was expected to face major threats like submergence of low-lying wetlands, natural resources like ground water systems and potential agricultural lands, human habitations being affected.

The university would bring out predicted impact maps owing to sea level rise in the southern coast of the State, using remote sensing, GPS and GIS technologies. Like GRU, various institutions like Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, Centre for Geo-Engineering (Andhra University) and Centre for Remote Sensing (Bharathidasan University) were engaged in studying the northern part of Tamil Nadu coast, low-lying areas of Krishna-Godavari Delta, Lakshadweep Islands and Mumbai.

University Professor N.D. Mani will conduct the study and the Vice-Chancellor, SM. Ramasamy, will act as an overall technical adviser. Dr. Ramasamy said that it would bring out a newer package of information on coastal vulnerability based on rural management strategies for Tamil Nadu that would be replicated in other parts of the country.


Captive breeding of seahorse successful

Tuticorin: The captive breeding of seahorse by research scholars of Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute here was successful.

As many as 530 young ones were produced and released in a phased manner in the coral and sea grass area along the coast of Tuticorin.

A batch of 116 young ones was released here on Tuesday in the reef area outside the Tuticorin port. Seahorses were mainly found in shallow tropical and temperate waters throughout the world. They prefer to live in sheltered area such as sea grass beds and coral reefs. Sea horses were being exploited in various parts along the coast of India. The major threats to seahorses are exploitation for the purpose of commercial trade, habitat destruction due to trawling and pollution. The extracts from seahorses were being used for medicinal purpose since they have medicinal values.

As far as the Chinese medicine was concerned, seahorses were traditionally considered the main components.

“Since the species of seahorses are being depleted, seahorse captive culture and sea ranching is essential for enhancing wild stocks and to improve its production. Seahorse captive breeding is not a complex technology but the major concern in establishing seahorse aquaculture is a provision of sufficient quantities of nutritionally balanced live food,” J.K. Patterson Edward told The Hindu here on Tuesday. Having regard to all these factors, a pilot project has been taken up by the Forest Department, he said.

J. Praveen Paul Joseph From THE HINDU

Sea intrudes coastal areas

TIRUNELVELI: After the sea erosion swallowed a road near the shoreline and now inching towards the houses, District Collector M. Jayaraman, accompanied by Radhapuram MLA M. Appavu, Tirunelveli MP S.S. Ramasubbu and top officials from the Departments of Fisheries, revenue and PWD visited the coastal hamlet on Tuesday to ascertain the situation there and the measures to be taken immediately to check further damage to the properties.

According to Uvari panchayat president S.V. Antony, the sea had advanced towards the shore further for about 100 feet in the past few years and could damage the houses when strong wind would hit the coast between mid-June and August.

“We’ve to take concrete measures immediately to save the public from the menacingly advancing sea… When the westerly wind starts lashing the coast during July and August, situation may become worse. So we’ve to act immediately to protect the public and their properties,” said Mr. Appavu.


After inspecting the damage, Mr. Jayaraman said a proposal on constructing the concrete structure at a cost of Rs. 7.50 crore to neutralise the giant waves would be forwarded to the State Government shortly.


India: Mass hatching of Olive Ridley eggs begins

RUSHIKULYA ROOKERY (ORISSA): Mass hatching of Olive Ridley turtle eggs has begun at this major nesting site under the shroud of environmental degradation caused by oil spill from a ship recently.

LEASE OF LIFE:A child releasing Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings near the waterline after collecting them from higher reaches at the Rushikulya Rookery in Ganjam district, Orissa, on Monday.

The mass hatching, which started on Saturday night, is expected to continue for next two to three days.

Berhampur Divisional Forest Officer Ajay Kumar Jena, who is monitoring the protection of the hatchlings till Monday morning, said eggs in around 30,000 nests on the coast had hatched.

Around 1,55,000 Olive Ridleys nested along the coastline near the Rushikulya Rookery in March and the eggs have started hatching after 45 days. More than 100 eggs were laid into every nest. On an average, however, around 80 hatchlings came out of each nest, Mr. Jena said.

Nearly 24,00,000 hatchlings had entered the sea and lakhs will follow in the coming days.

The mortality of the hatchlings is usually quite high. Experts say only one in a 1,000 survives to become an adult. Environmental activists like Soumya Tripathy of Greenpeace feel the oil spill that occurred on April 13 may increase the mortality of the hatchlings this year.

Mr. Jena said though the surface of the sea near the nesting site was monitored, no residue of the oil spill was found. However, marine scientist and Vice-Chancellor of Berhampur University Bijay Kumar Sahu said the oil spill would have had be a serious impact on the marine flora and fauna near the rookery, especially on plankton and small organisms that were the food of the turtle hatchlings.

Mr. Sahu and Mr. Tripathy said there was immediate need for a detailed multi-discipline faculty study on the long-term impact of the oil spill on the marine environment.

As part of measures to protect the hatchlings, the bright lights of the industrial units and townships near the area have been ordered to be shut down during the hatching period. The hatchlings get attracted to light sources. Nylon nets were in place over a distance of three km at the nesting beach to stop hatchlings from straying towards the land.

Volunteers of the Rushikulya Sea Turtle Protection Committee — an organisation comprising people from villages near the rookery involved in turtle protection — collected stray hatchlings and released them into the sea.