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Detailed study of Maha's coastal ecosystem on the cards

The state government will launch an extensive study to map the biodiversity and rich aquatic ecosystem along Maharashtra’s 720-km coastline. While revealing the presence of hitherto unrecorded species of plants, birds, and marine life, the study and compendium will help identify threats to this critical habitat and enable stakeholders to undertake interventions and mitigate measures.

“We will study the diversity of flora and fauna across the coastline… This will reveal the rich marine life off Maharashtra’s coast,” N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forests (CCF) of the state forest department’s mangrove cell told DNA. He said that the study would map the floral and faunal diversity across the coast, and added that while districts like Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg had been studied extensively, it was necessary to extend this to the state’s entire coastline.

The study will be conducted after identifying specialised institutions as partners and will be launched in the coming financial year. It is expected to be completed by 2018-end.

He said that similar studies in two coastal districts (Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri) had thrown up unknown details of aquatic life and birds. “Earlier, it was thought that Sindhudurg had around 50 to 100 dolphins. 615 dolphins were counted only in Sindhudurg during the study. This includes just the number of mature adults that have a characteristic dorsal fin, as calves do not have this distinguishing characteristic,” said Vasudevan, adding that Bryde’s whales and Blue Whales were also encountered.

Maharashtra has a 720-km coastline, however, development around the coastline and resultant human intervention and pollution have created a threat for this fragile marine ecosystem.