PIROTAN'S CORAL REEF
Gujarat has the distinction of creat ing the country's first Marine National Park spread over an area of nearly 458 sq. kms in the Gulf of Kachchh, 30 kms from Jamnagar. Offshore from the southern coast of the gulf of Kachchh, an archipelago of 42 islands sits like little gems in the Arabian Sea.
Here, corals creat e fantasies in stone and are the master builders of the Park. These are home to some of the finest coral reef formations on India's west coast, some fringed by mangrove forests. Their limestone fortresses - each one the work of a colony of countless tiny animals - come in an amazing variety of shapes and sizes, from the convoluted brain coral to corals that look like horns.
The waters of the gulf are home to the dolphin, the finless porpoise and dugong sea cow. In 1980, the Gulf of Kachchh was declared India's first marine nature reserve, and in 1982 it became India's first marine national park.
MAIN PARK POPULATION
Turtles, shrimp, sponge, eels, sea urchin lurk among the corals and huge schools of fish creat e a brilliance of colours that are unknown, unseen and unimaginable. Here you can see dolphins and octopuses.
Dugong, a marine mammal, which resembles a seal and the rare Boralia species are found in these protected areas. The park has dense mangrove growth, which provides scores of birds with nesting and roosting sites.
Sea turtles nest on the beaches. The coral reefs are a blaze of colour, home to a variety of rare life forms like the octopus, sea hare and 200 species of molluscs. Also colourful fish like the puffer, butterfly and parrot; and echinoderms like the star fish, brittle star, sand dollar, sea urchin and sea cucumber. More than 40 species of sponges in vivid shades of green, red, pink and other colours abound.
Soft corals include the sea anemone, sea fans and sea pens which resemble a bed of flowers in this brilliant underwater world. Thousands of shore birds like crab plovers, terek sandpipers, oystercatchers and sanderlings descend on the mud banks to feed on the array of beached marine life when the tide turns. In summer and the monsoons, more than 30 species of birds including herons, darters and terns nest on the island shores and canopies of the mangrove trees.