Revive. Survive. Strive.

Oceans form a crucial part of our nature. They not only cool down the atmosphere and provide us with life-giving clouds but also provide shelter to millions of species of marine organisms. Unfortunately, the graceful water bodies of our beloved World are under serious threat of degradation. Be it the large amounts of CO2 emissions that raise the temperature and evaporation of water from oceans or be it the large-scale pollution of the pristine waters with non-biodegradable items, mankind has put the entire system of ecological balance on risk for it’s own benefit. We need to change this negligent and selfish attitude else we must be ready for the disastrous future.

Keeping in mind the 14th UNDP sustainable goal for development, it is evident that governments and authorities definitely have a role to play in the conservation of water-bodies but it all starts with the participation of individuals. It is wrong to blame the entire society for this menace because most of the people are unaware of the fact that their simple ignorant actions are the roots of complex and massive environmental destruction. Thus, here we present three easy ways in which you can contribute towards a healthy tomorrow for you and your future generations.

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1. THINK before you ACT

Generally we do something important for our well-being with all care and strength but when it comes to nature and it’s preservation, we tend to neglect the consequences of our actions. Thus, before you buy a plastic bag, before you unwrap a polythene cover, keep in mind that proper disposal of these hazardous substances is more important than their usage. Especially when you are at a beach having a jolly picnic, remember the water-bodies are a part of our larger family called ecosystem and hence contaminating them is not rightful.

lessplastic.org.uk

2. Opt for recyclable items

Single use plastics are convenient to use but their decomposition takes a very long time. Thus, we must opt for alternatives like paper or cloth items which cause relative less harm to the nature.

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3. Eat sustainably 

Food forms an essential part of anyone’s life. Thus, making wise decisions about the food you eat is one of the best ways to help our environment recover. Eat local. Eat sustainable. Do not crave for seafoods that are over exploited and help these species survive and replenish.

By following these three simple steps, one can do a lot on one’s behalf for the better future and healthy living of the mankind and the marine ecosystem.

Dead Zones of the Bay of Bengal

When it comes to the marine heritage of the Eastern coast of India, the vast stretch of Bay of Bengal is the shining embellishment that the country possesses. But in the course of years of technological development and advancement in industrial production, mankind has caused immeasurable damage to the kind and selfless environment. Coming to the coast of Bay of Bengal, in the past few years, the contamination of seashores by chemical pollutants has rendered 60,000 sq.km of coastal area ‘dead’ and hence the title- dead zones.

Source:express.co.uk

According to global scientists, there are more than 450 dead zones in the world. The dead zones are low-oxygen water bodies within marine ecosystem where life cannot exist. Excessive nutrient pollution and other factors deplete the oxygen content in the water. This leads to mass mortality of fish and marine animals.

Source: topyaps.com

The lack of strict enaction of rules by the government in controlling the amount of industrial waste,fertiliser runoff and sewage that enters the sea has led to this catastrophic consequence which us claiming the lives of thousands of marine organisms. If this continues, the marine biodiversity will have to face a painful extinction in the future. This eventually has a grave impact on the balance of the ecosystem which is essential for life to survive on Earth.

Source: deccanherald.com

A handful of the 166 dead zones have since bounced back through improved management of sewage and agricultural runoff, but as fertilizer use and factory farming increase, we are creating dead zones faster than nature can recover. This shows that dead-zones are not irreversible. With sincere and dedicated steps, we-the children of Mother Nature-can help in reversing the condition of dead-zones and insure the future of marine life in turn guaranteeing the wonderful future of our planet. We must voice our opinions and ask for the formation and implementation of rules that protect the aquatic environment. We, together, with concerted efforts can bring back the lost glory of our divine oceans.

The Beach ain’t a Dustbin!

India is blessed with a beautiful coastline, with several serene beaches and vibrant ocean fronts. Yet, we continue to misuse and ill-treat our fragile coasts that give life to several other life forms!

There’s so much about the ocean that we don’t know! Join us in our effort, #EFISamudra, to conserve and protect our ocean.

Video by: K Sri Sivaram, Communications intern

We thank all those have joined us over the years to protect and conserve India’s beaches!

Volunteer for India and her Environment with E.F.I, Jai Hind

Kondakorla Ava Beach: A harmonious shore

Every beach at Visakhapatnam has its own uniqueness and distinct specialty. From clean, scenic beaches to fun-filled thrilling sea-shores, one can explore the variety of coastal attributes maintained by human intervention. But there’s one beach here, in the littoral city of Visakhapatnam, which has been untouched to a large extent and its tranquility will touch your heart as you read below about the story of the Kondakorla Ava beach.

A ferry at Kondakorla Ava Source: vizagtourism.in

Far away from the hustle of the busy city, the Kondakorla Ava beach resides in complete peacefulness with frequent visits by exhausted locals and curious tourists who seek refuge in the welcoming ripples of the white-sand beach. It is home to one of the biggest freshwater lakes of the state and this is one big attraction for the tourists along with its picturesque setting dotted with coconut trees and lush green hills on either side. 

The fishermen at the beach have made it possible for the tourists to enjoy the buoyancy of the cool waters by offering boating opportunities. Unlike the traditional polished boats, the boatmen use logs of palm trees to make rafts that provide a rustic experience with the chance to wave your hands through the numerous lotus flowers that bloom here.

A migratory birdat Kondakorla Ava Source: namastevizagites.in

Occasionally, migratory birds drop by to greet the locals at the Bird and lake sanctuary here which is home to several exotic bird species like cormorants, pochards, herons, storks, and egrets. In short, a perfect place for witnessing the marine life thriving at Visakhapatnam is the Kondakorla Ava beach. It reminds us that biodiversity adds various colours to our life and it is extremely important to preserve such places to ensure this coexistence, the harmony, continues to exist for generations to come.

Bheemili Beach: Waves of Thrill and Ethnic Creativity

Located at the mouth of the river Gosthani which merges with Bay of Bengal at Bheemunipatnam, the Bheemili beach is yet another jewel among the numerous picturesque seashores of Visakhapatnam.

Soft glowing golden sand, pulsating waves and peaceful atmosphere define the environment at this scenic beach. In addition to this, a fun-filled aura teemed with water sports like snorkelling, scuba diving,etc. are the features that attract many tourists to the Bheemili beach.

Known to the Dutch as Bimilipatnam, Bheemunipatnam was one among the major dutch settlements of the Dutch Coromandel coast in the 17th century. It was the main trading port of the east coast during the reign of East India Company and hence it is still one of the strategic ports of the Eastern coast. One can also spot a Dutch-style lighthouse that signifies the Dutch connect of the coastal region.

What makes the Bheemili beach special is the large number of sculptures and statues in concrete depicting various religious themes. From the statues of Pandavas to that of Buddha and his disciples, the sculptures redefine the ethnicity and culminate the various traditional icons of India.

To put it in a nutshell, Bheemili beach is the harbour of Visakhapatnam where one can find the various shades of beauty either in the form of thrilling sports or the artistic sculptures. What adds on to the prominence of the beach is the integrity of the citizens who ensure that this ethnic hub remains unsullied for everyone to cherish.

The Rock Cave Beach

Walking through the beautiful meadows at the Thotlakonda monastery, one can hardly miss the remarkable vast stretch of the rhythmic waves and the artistically cut out rock caves at the seashore of the dynamic sea. The Hinayana Buddhist complex flourished almost 2000 years ago at the coast of the Bay of Bengal at the soothing and calm rock cave beach of Thotlakonda. The Telugu name Toṭlakoṇḍa derived from the presence of a number of rock-cut cisterns hewn into the bedrock of the hillock. 

In the past few decades, the shore of Thotlakonda has undergone a transformation in terms of the establishment of restaurants and organisation of community programs. This has brought the human society and the marine world closer which in turn enhances the bond between the two important components of nature. With limited tourists visiting this seashore and the maintenance carried out by the commercial establishments, the beach boasts of its purity and exemplary scenic beauty. The marine life at Thotlakonda beach thrives healthily and beautifully with frequent visits by the crawling crabs and steady turtles. 

A crab underwater at Thotlakonda arch bridge 

Talking about the cultural influence of the beach and the adjoining monastery, Thotlakonda provides a perfect insight into the process of transoceanic diffusion of Indic culture, especially Buddhism. It was discovered during an aerial survey by the Indian Navy in order to set up a naval base. The curved coastline provides a strategic location to safely anchor the ships. Thus, this beach was considered to be one of the most significant spots on the eastern coast in terms of security as well as spirituality.

The sparkling and exemplary beach of Thotlakonda is because of the cumulative efforts of the administrative bodies as well as the responsible behaviour of the regional people. The locals of Thotlakonda have set an example for us that it is possible to retain the charm and splendour of the environmental elements with conscious human efforts and strong determination. We must learn from them and pledge to protect and preserve the bounty of nature from the selfish and greedy worldly intentions of human beings.

Ramakrishna Beach: The Beach of Destiny

Splashing cool waves lashing at the serene seashores. Aesthetic rocks embellishing the vast coast. The hub of various commercial sea activities and the most prominent and significant strategically located Eastern coastal port of the Indian Navy. Welcome to the realms of the mystical beaches of the  “city of destiny”- Visakhapatnam! 

Well known as the capital city of Andhra Pradesh and one of the most famous Software Parks of India, Visakhapatnam is also renowned for its natural scenic beauty especially the pristine water bodies that adorn the city with marine jewels. A visit to the City of Destiny is incomplete without visiting the hotspot of Visakhapatnam- The RK Beach. While Mumbai is famous for its Queen’s necklace, Visakhapatnam is popularly known for its extraordinarily clean and beautiful RK Beach drive. RK Beach gets its name from the Ramakrishna Mission ashram situated near the beach. It is one of the most crowded beaches in the country. With its serene waters and cool atmosphere, the beach offers a wonderful view of the countryside. 

What’s even more unique about this beach is that it has adopted various eco friendly techniques which include the planting of coconut trees on the sand! They not only add to the beauty of the beach but also provide soothing shade to the people. Annual fests and weekend concerts were a regular feature at this beach until the advent of the Corona pandemic. Large crowds of people gather at the beach to enjoy the calming waters and charming sunrise and sunset while resting on the beach beds. 

One of the most grave problems that prevail on this beach is that of erosion. From the past seven years the RK beach has faced major beach erosion challenges pertaining to the harsh cyclones that hit the coast frequently. With the help of World Bank Funds and the project report being prepared by Deltares, a Dutch consultancy in association with National Institute of Ocean Technology, there is a scope of large scale beach redevelopment in the near future.

Navy, Coast Guard, police and students form clean-up crew for Vizag beaches

Once the cleanest beach of Vizag, RK beach has become loaded with garbage in recent years as ignorant tourists and locals continue to dispose of their waste on the shore even though the provision of wet and dry dustbins exists. Frequent campaigns and cleanliness drives by student organisations regularly carry out the tidying of the beaches and create awareness about the necessity of keeping our beaches clean and free of the plastic menace.

Despite the few imperfections in the conditions of the beach, the optimum utilisation of solar energy is remarkable. With solar charged illuminated benches and traffic signals, the potential of tapping the most abundant source of energy is being carried out to the fullest. However, it is the need of the hour to take immediate action to ensure that the serenity of the beach is not lost forever. For this, it is extremely important to instill a sense of belongingness and care towards the natural gifts that are bestowed on us by Mother Nature, in the minds of the people in order to restore this beach’s cleanliness. This will also help provide a safe and healthy environment for a variety of marine organisms that thrive in and near the sea. With continuous efforts by not only the administrative bodies but also by WE the responsible citizens of our Motherland, it is definite that the beach of destiny will soon triumph back to its original beauty.

Liberating Chennai’s Bottled Up Coastline

Beaches are not just vast stretches of sands, they’re a habitat! They ain’t a dustbin, ocean ain’t a landfill. Every bottle, plastic bag, straw, tampon, Plaster of Paris Idol we dump is killing a turtle, dugong, whale and countless fish.

E.F.I in collaboration with the Greater Chennai Corporation and the HCL Foundation have taken on the task of reviving Chennai’s coastlines!

On 9th November 2020 (Monday), a day-long labour-based cleanup was conducted to clear glass bottles found in the beach. Close to 2000 glass bottles were removed from the beach!

We thank all those who supported us in this effort!

Volunteer for India and her Environment with E.F.I, Jai Hind

Marine Plastics are destroying our Blue Economy

Blue economy is a term that refers to all economic activities related to oceans, seas and coasts and the interlinked benefits around biodiversity , coastal protection and its precious natural heritage.

Indian Agriculture and its allied industries contribute to around 20% of India’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product is the total value of goods and services produced in a country). The allied industry consists of forestry, animal husbandry, natural resources and fisheries . The Blue economy directly linked to fisheries and ocean resources is estimated to contribute to around 4% of our GDP which is ~100 Billion USD (7 lakh crore INR).

And why is the blue economy in focus ?

Typical ocean activities are around fisheries, tourism and maritime transport . Fisheries have harmed our oceans ; fish catches have gone down and 87 % of our fish stocks are over-exploited. Let us consider Aquaculture. Aquaculture refers to water farming, breeding, harvesting fish, shellfish, aquatic plants etc. is a growing economy critical to the food security of our poorest people. Aquaculture provides more than half of all fish consumed with 63%  of production in freshwater (mostly in ponds on land), 28% in marine waters, and 9% in coastal ponds.

To improve our blue economy , we need to accelerate our focus on emerging areas such as offshore renewable wind energy(ocean energy), marine biotechnology and Bioprospecting (usage of medicinal plants for healthcare).Not only will these prevent rapid degradation of our ocean resources but spur our governments and public sectors to invest and create new employment and development opportunities.

Looking at India’s projected population growth, such measures are needed for improving the social and economic status of our current and future generations. The picture below shows the importance of  ‘blue economy’ as the seventh largest contributor to our global economy.

Marine plastics are hurting our oceans:

Due to ineffective waste management of plastic on land , smaller particles of plastics called as Microplastics ends up in our oceans . A concerning fact is 80% of the debris in our oceans is from plastic .

A bigger problem is the volume of plastic pollutants from Textile, Tourism, Fishing and Shipping Industries . The table below summarizes the extent of marine pollution from these industries .

India’s Initiatives :

Though India has committed to a ban of single-use plastic by 2022 and uses about 14 million tons of plastic annually, there is a lack of an organized system for management of plastic waste . Blanket bans are ineffective as alternatives are not immediately available and so it is a multi-step process for phasing-out of plastics.

India has 7500 kilometers of coastline and has established national and regional campaigns to measure marine plastic footprint and take steps towards a plastic pollution free India. The Sagarmala program is a port modernization program to enhance the capacity of India’s ports and power the blue economy. Implementation of sustainable fisheries, conservation of biodiversity, enforcement of strict environmental laws with respect to pollution is a key aspect of Sagarmala but coastal industrialization programs have adverse impacts on marine ecology and strong alignment between governments, policy makers and engaged research scientists is need of the hour.

Blue Carbon is here to help ….

Mangroves are salt tolerant trees with inter-wining branches found along our coastlines and is known to store carbon, improve water quality and provide protection against floods and storms. Mangroves are super-hero trees and have an enormous capacity to suck up carbon-dioxide from air and covert to biomass in the form of thick, heavy layers of carbon-rich soil that stays waterlogged and does not rot . Promoting Mangroves along our coastal ecosystems and declaring them as protected and reserved forests is essential.

Pichavaram mangroves in TamilNadu

Technology to our rescue ….

A new study reveals that plastic-eating super enzymes can break-down plastics in a few days. Scientists are engineering a super plastic-eater by stitching together the DNA found from plastic eating bacteria into one enzyme that can breakdown plastic quickly . Nature’s most affected are several species of marine life and we humans must help save them. How quickly these solutions would come to the market and leveraged by our industries remains to be seen.

Plastics impacting marine life- Seabird in picture

In conclusion…It is indeed disheartening to see slow progress of mega government projects, lack of governance by our local municipalities ,careless public attitude towards garbage disposal and the cleanliness levels of our localities and the sea of litter that often surrounds us. Strong governance and investment in technologies that help our natural habitats can accelerate our progress towards a cleaner society .

We are grappling with a world-wide problem and need to come together as a civil society and break the plastic wave that is endangering our planet. It is important to recognize that this marine pollution topic has cross-boundary impacts with global plastic supply chains and our careful consumer attitudes with respect to consumption and safe disposal of plastic products is key to a sustainable marine life.