Status of Flora and Fauna of Gulf of Kachchh
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Gulf of Katchchh (herein after termed as Gulf) occupying an area of 7300 Km2 is biologically one of the most productive and diversified habitats along the west coast of India. The southern shore has numerous Islands and inlets which harbour vast areas of mangroves and coral reefs with living corals. The northern shore with numerous shoals and creeks also sustains large stretches of mangroves. A variety of marine wealth existing in the Gulf includes algae, mangroves, corals, sponges, molluscs, prawns, fishes, reptiles, birds and mammals. Industrial and other developments along the Gulf have accelerated in recent years and many industries make use of the Gulf either directly or indirectly. Hence, it is necessary that the existing and proposed developments are planned in an ecofriendly manner to maintain the high productivity and biodiversity of the Gulf region. In this context, Department of Ocean Development, Government of India is planning a strategy for management of the Gulf adopting the framework of Integrated Coastal and Marine Area Management (ICMAM) which is the most appropriate way to achieve the balance between the environment and development. The work has been awarded to National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa. NIO engaged Vijayalakshmi R. Nair as a Consultant to compile and submit a report on the status of flora and fauna of the Gulf based on secondary data. The objective of this compilation is to (a) evolve baseline for marine flora and fauna of the Gulf based on secondary data (b) establish the prevailing biological characteristics for different segments of the Gulf at macrolevel and (c) assess the present biotic status of the Gulf. The project domain for the present study covers the water-spread areas of the Gulf. The southern coast of the Gulf extends from Okha to Navlakhi and the northern coast from Kandla to Kori creek. The western extremity of the Gulf consists of a vast complex of marshland criss-crossed by innumerous creeks. Kandla, Nakti and Hansthal creeks are the major tributaries of the inner Gulf and drain into the Little Gulf of Kachchh. The Gulf is endowed with a great diversity of natural ecosystems, of which the major systems are salt pans, intertidal zones, marine algae, sea grass and sand dunes, mangroves, coral reefs, creeks and open ocean.
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