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Maha Coast To ‘Rock’ with Ecotourism

Tide pooling, livelihood support planned at 8 places

NatConnect Foundation


Chance to view hidden biodiversity and ecosystem at such rocky intertidal zones, says Mangrove Foundation

MUMBAI: With a view to promoting ecotourism in Maharashtra coast, the State Mangrove Foundation has picked up eight destinations to introduce tide-pooling - an outdoor activity along the shoreline during low tide to view hidden biodiversity and ecosystem at such rocky intertidal zones.

“We are assessing the feasibility of introducing this activity across these eight locations by involving the local community, and further plans are being developed for this based on the study,”  Virendra Tiwari, Mangrove Foundation Executive Director Mangrove Foundation, said.

Eight locations along coastal Maharashtra - three in Sindhudurg district namely Tambeldeg, Kunkeshwar and Bhogwe while five locations in Ratnagiri district including Katghar, Hedvi, Kharviwada, Velas and Velneshwar - have the potential for coastal tide pool tourism as a livelihood options for the local communities.  

The intertidal zone of rocky coasts is home to some amazing formations, including intertidal rock pools (also known as tide pools), which serve as microhabitats for numerous coastal creatures.

The rocky coast has the highest density of macroorganisms compared to other intertidal shores, as well as the greatest diversity of animal and plant species. Numerous marine creatures use the tide pools as refuge, food sources, and nursery grounds, the Mangrove Foundation said.

“This is a great initiative to promote education and knowledge about the coastal biodiversity,” said B N Kumar, director NatConnect Foundation. “These kinds of projects should help in creating awareness to protect our coasts at a time when an increasing number of projects are being allowed under the guise of infrastructure and development,” Kumar said.

The Mangrove and Marine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation of Maharashtra funded the study by the Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON) under its Small Grants Programme. The study - Documentation of fauna from Tide pool ecosystems along the Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg Coast, Maharashtra - led by Goldin Quadros, Shirish Manchi and Siddhesh Bhave found a wide range of sea creatures with 303 coastal species overall across these rocky tide pools.

This included 30 seaweed and algae species, 80 phytoplankton species, 73 zooplankton species, 90 species of megafauna, both vertebrates (mammals, birds, reptiles and fishes) and invertebrates (crustaceans, echinoderms, annelids, amphipods among others), as well as 30 bird species, across the two coastal Konkan districts covering 288 km.

The goal is to systematically catalogue the rocky tide pools, he said and explained that researchers surveyed 45 rocky coastal areas and selected 25 locations with a continuous 500-metre long rocky coastline for this study, Tiwari said.

More rocky intertidal areas were documented in Ratnagiri than in the Sindhudurg district. The survey was done during three seasons - pre-monsoon, monsoon, and post-monsoon. All the rocky tide pools in Sindhudurg district had good species diversity, with maximum species recorded at Kunkeshwar and minimum at Girye Ghari pools, the study found. In Ratnagiri district, maximum species diversity was recorded at Velas (also famous for the Turtle festival) and minimum observed at Gaokhadi rocky tide pools.

“The ecosystems in rocky tide pools are significant because they support a wide range of biodiversity. These pools can soon provide food security, in addition to serving as nursery for a range of species. The coastal youth can have a means of subsistence if they have a grasp of ecosystem diversity, functions, and values,” said Goldin Quadros, Principal Scientist