Thursday, August 11, 2016

Kurusadai Island, Rameshwaram, Ramanathapuram

Kurusadai Island, Rameshwaram, Ramanathapuram
Kurusadai Island is located at a distance of 4 Kms from Mandapam. This Island can be seen from the main land of Ramanathapuram in the Gulf of Mannar. It is a Marine Biosphere, a paradise for the Marine Biologists and Nature lovers. Abundance of Marine wealth here attracts researchers and Marine life scholars. Permission from the Fisheries is mandatory to visit this Island. Coral Reefs, Dolphins, Sea cows and Dugong can be seen in plenty of Kurusadai.

Kurusadai Island is situated west of Pamban Bridge between the mainland and the Pamban Island. Hence the small island in Gulf of Mannar can be viewed from Rameswaram in the Pamban Island. This enchanting marine biosphere is not only a paradise for marine biologists but also an unavoidable location for Nature lovers. This island has representatives of every animal phylum known except amphibians.

The island, which covers an area of 66 ha, is about 4 kms from Mandapam. It lies west of the Pamban Bridge, between the mainland and Rameshwaram Island. The Gulf of Mannar (GOM) region lies along the coastline of India bordering the districts of Ramanathapuram, Tuticorin, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari in south eastern Tamilnadu.

It is very rich in marine biodiversity, both in terms of range and density.  The rich marine life here attracts scholars and researchers. The Gulf of Mannar has a chain of 21 islands along a stretch of 140 km in between Rameswaram and Tuticorin. Although, most of the islands are small and uninhabited, they are surrounded by a great variety of corals and associated ornamental and food fishes.

The Gulf of Mannar region has the unique distinction of having been studied extensively in the Indian subcontinent. This area boasts of more than 3,600 species of marine flora and fauna associated with sensitive ecosystems like corals, mangroves, sea grass, salt marsh and wetlands. Extensive research here has revealed that there are 500 species of fish, 117 species of corals, 90 species of crabs, 200 species of sponges, 100 species of echinoderms, 500 species of molluscs, 5 species of turtles and 14 species of marine mammals 12 species of sea grasses, 13 species of mangroves, 147 species of seaweeds. This area is also a storehouse for many endemic species of marine plants. 

Most of the Gulf of Mannar region is off-limits to tourists. Kurusadai Island is one of the exceptions. However you need permission from the Tamil Nadu Fisheries Department to visit the island. Today this eco-tourism center is facing a major threat from the onslaught of tourism as visitors litter its breathtakingly beautiful shoreline with plastic and other non-biodegradable stuff. So when you visit this paradise do take care to clean up after you to preserve its fragile ecosystem. 
Attractions
Kurusadai Island is a paradise for nature lovers and marine biologists. Surrounded by shallow translucent waters in which you can see coral reefs, you will feel as if you have been transported to a tropical paradise. You can also see playful dolphins and sea cows frolicking in the waters. The northern coast and western end are fringed by mangrove forests.

The rich biodiversity of this stunning island is its main attraction – there are three varieties of sea grass here that are not found anywhere else in India. In addition, representatives of all known animal phylum (except amphibians) can be found here. What distinguishes the place from its neighboring islands is the profusion of atypical balanoglossus (Ptychdera fluva) organism, which is one of the most prized living fossils existing in the earth’s aqua biosphere. It is a taxonomically unique ‘living fossil’ which links vertebrates and invertebrates.

The shallow waters around the island will enchant you with its many offerings. You can glimpse sea anemone, a variety of sea weeds and sea grasses apart from corals of course, spread out in the shimmering waters. The raised coral reefs, in shades of red to violet, are one of the biggest attractions on Kurusadai Island.
This is a favorite exploration spot for marine specialists and aquatic researchers. The Islands has a global recognition for the existence of unique coral reefs. Scholars from various places come to this island to conduct researches as well as studies. Around the island, there are numerous small islands. With proper approval from the fisheries department the place can be visited by common people.

Kurusadai Islands offer a visual delight to tourists by rendering the sight of dolphins and sea-cows or Dugongs diving freely in the Gulf of Mannar. The place has too much importance when compared to the neighboring Islands as it encloses the exclusive wealth of uncharacteristic balanoglossus organisms which are considered to be rare and precious among living fossils. Hence, this location has much potential for eco-tourism, scholars and ecologists.
Sea anemone is another interesting asset of the Islands. The organism takes the shape of an amoeba at the instant it is touched, disturbed or threatened by the presence of some foreign body lies nearby. The infinite range of sea weeds, multicolored coral reefs and sea grasses spread over the shallow bed of sparkling water are seen around. This featured sight brightens up the entire ambience of the location.
From shades of violet to red, the raised coral reefs of the Islands are not only a special attraction of the place but also help get high rank in the list of marine biologists. From algae, starfish and sponges to crabs and sea cucumbers, Kurusadai Islands is known to be the living place of many other attractive generations of aquatic species. Representing the widespread reserve of outstanding flora and fauna, Kurusadai Island protects and encourages the vigorous growth of marine species. This island is under the control of Tamil Nadu Fisheries Department and needs special permission to visit.
This is breathtakingly beautiful and some of the marine life found here includes a notable array of marine life-algae, sea cucumber, sea anemones, cowries, volutes, whelks, crabs, sponges, strombids, tonnids, sting rays, starfish, turtles, dolphins, dugongs, oysters, and others.
Of the many dolphins (Oongil in Tamil) spotted here, there are many varieties such as – the bottle-nosed dolphin, the common dolphin, and the finless porpoise, while the land is also home to at least three different species of turtles found here which include the Hawksbill, Green and Olive Ridley Turtles.
For those who prefer to enjoy the rich marine life found here, try the glass bottomed boat rides at the Pamban Bridge. Studies estimate that some 117 species of stony corals inhabit the Gulf of Mannar, with Porites, Favia, Favites, Goniastrea and Platygyra being majority of the corals found here. The dominant reef building coral species belong to the family Poritidae and Faviidae.
Kurusadai Island is a famous tourist destination with well-equipped network of modern high-class hotels and guest houses. The beautiful cottages provide a rustic charm while the contemporary hotels offer amenities along with personalized care and comfort.
Connectivity
Being next to Mandapam, Kurusadai Island is connected to nearby places of tourist interest via the Pamban Bridge. Only a 23 km driveway from Rameswaram, the Island offers convenient transportation facilities to the visitors. Rameshwaram Railway station is the nearest railway station at 13 km from the island. The nearest airport is Madurai airport.

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