Tamil Nadu has notified the country’s first ‘Dugong Conservation Reserve’ in Palk Bay covering the coastal waters of Thanjavur and Pudukottai districts with an area of 448 square kilometres. In September 2021 Government of Tamil Nadu (GoTN) initiated the idea of the ‘Dugong Conservation Reserve’ to be established in the Palk Bay region, in order to protect the endangered Dugong species and its marine habitats in Tamil Nadu. At present, there are around 240 Dugongs in India and a majority of them are found in the Tamil Nadu Coast (Palk Bay region).
Tamil Nadu has rich marine biodiversity with a long coastline of 1076 km and 14 coastal districts and is home to several rare and endangered fishes and turtle species. Conserving dugongs will help to protect and improve seagrass beds and sequestering more atmospheric carbon. Seagrass beds are also the breeding and feeding grounds for many commercially valuable fishes and marine fauna. Hence, thousands of fisher families directly depend on dugong habitats for their income.
About the Dugongs:
- Dugongs are the largest herbivorous marine mammals in the world thriving primarily on seagrass beds, a major carbon sink of the oceans. Dugongs are protected under Schedule 1 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
- However, their population is on the decline due to habitat loss. There are only about 240 individuals estimated to be present in the country and the majority is found in Tamil Nadu coast (Palk Bay).
- Hence, there is an imminent need to protect Dugongs and their habitat from degradation. The government had last year announced its decision to set up the reserve, said an official release.
Important takeaways for all competitive exams:
- Tamil Nadu Capital: Chennai;
- Tamil Nadu Chief Minister: MK Stalin;
- Tamil Nadu Governor: RN Ravi.