More than 2,438 m2 of artificial reef structures are being built, to provide a substrate for restored coral off the coast of Mithapur.
The Mithapur coastal waters host a coral reef, an extension of the western outer limit of the Gulf of Kutch. The coral reef restoration project was initiated in partnership with Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), with support from Gujarat State Forest Dept., with an aim to restore this vulnerable coastal habitat, that is situated less than a kilometer from the Mithapur township and suffers from its impacts.
Conservation efforts include mapping of the reef boundaries and biodiversity, development of artificial reef structures, establishment of a coral nursery and coral transplantation. Early attempts at long distance transportation of live “Acropora humilis” species of branching corals from the Lakshadweep islands for transplantation, were met with some success.
The project has so far been instrumental in creation of 2,438 m2 of additional substrate on which corals can colonize. These artificial reef structures are supporting an increasing abundance and diversity of marine flora and fauna. A coral nursery for local species has also been established.
- Live coral cover increased from 12% in 2008 to 16% in 2018.
- Fish diversity increased from 55 in 2010 to 64 species in 2019.
- Presence of vulnerable seahorse species (Hippocampus sp.) and the Starry Puffer fish (Arothron stellatus – a species recorded only twice before in Indian waters) have also been recorded here.
- Fish catch around the site has increased from 0.6 to 0.7 kg/hr to 1.65 kg/hr between 2009 and 2019.
- Outreach activities have helped enhance awareness amongst fisher communities on coral reef conservation and its importance to their livelihoods.
- Long-distance coral transportation protocols were prepared and tested as part of the project – learning will now contribute to the global science available to practitioners of coral conservation.
- This project has helped Tata Chemicals enhance its brand image and has increased confidence in the company, of Government departments and conservation organizations.
- The project generates 500 volunteer hours annually.