Tamil Nadu - Gulf of Mannar & Palk Bay


Dugong Mortalities in the Month of February, 2020 
Date: 19/02/2020
Place: Pasipattinam, Palk Bay

A dugong was stranded on Pasipattinam beach. Post mortem was conducted by the Forest veterinarian in presence of the Forest guard and anti-poaching watchers.

Date: 16/02/2020
Place: Sethubhavacharthiram, Palk Bay
An adult dugong was stranded at Sethubavachathiram

Awareness Programme 

Date: 29/02/2020

Venue: Government Schools in Kulasekharapattinam and Manappad; and, Coastal Fishing villages of Manappad, Alanthalai and Amali Nagar

WII team, along with the Tiruchendur Forest Department, conducted awareness programmes at 2 schools: one school in Kulasekharapattinam and one in Manappad, Tuticorin District. We gave talks and made students take an oath to protect marine life.

We also conducted awareness programmes at 3 coastal villages for fishermen. We gave talks and discussed issues regarding conservation with the fishing community.
Beach Clean-up and Capacity Building Programme
Date: 28/02/2020
Palce: Kulasekharapattinam, Gulf of Mannar

The WII team was part of the beach clean-up programme conducted by the Tiruchendur Forest Department. Students from PSM Govt middle school, Kulasekharapattinam were involved in the clean-up. The Assistant Conservator of Forests was also present and actively participated and encouraged the children.

A small capacity building programme was conducted by us for 8 frontline staff of the Forest Department and one Home Guard of the Coastal Security Group to introduce them to methodologies followed while assessing coastal marine biodiversity. They were also introduced to the biodiversity of the region. We also demonstrated techniques such as SCUBA Diving and snorkelling training was given for interested candidates. The Assistant Conservator of Forests and a Forest Range Officer of Tiruchendur Forest department were present throughout the event and were a source of encouragement to the frontline staff.

Marine Exhibition 

Date: 25-27/02/2020
Venue: Kamaraj College, Tuticorin 

The WII team was invited to put up a stall at the Marine Exhibition conducted by the Forest Department. It was opened by the District Forest Officer and the Head Master of Kamraj College, Tuticorin. The stall exhibited the project’s objectives, activities, need for dugong and seagrass habitat conservation and SCUBA Diving. The department exhibited preserved and live specimens of marine organisms. Over 3700 people from schools and colleges participated in the event.



Date: 14/02/2020
Venue: Madras Christian College (Autonomous), Chennai

Rukmini Shekar and Caroline Christina from WII team were invited to give a talk on the activities and objectives of the dugong project to MSc. students of Madras Christian College, Chennai.

Date: 13/02/2020
Venue: Stella Maris College (Autonomous), Chennai
Rukmini Shekar from WII team gave a talk on the activities and objectives of the dugong project to Conservation Biology Students at Stella Maris College, Chennai

Awareness Programme
Date: 04/02/2020
Venue: Kodiyakkarai beach, Palk Bay

The WII team was invited to be part of an awareness event organized by the Manamelkudi Coastal Security Group, for students of two schools in Manalmekudi The Marine Police inspector and Sub-inspectors of Manamelkudi Coastal Security Group, Forest Range Officer, members of the local fishermen society and Headmaster of a Manamelkudi School were present at the event. A beach clean-up and tree-planting drive was conducted. Quiz programme was conducted by the WII team and prizes were given


Dugong Mortalities in the Month of January, 2020
Date: 17/01/2020
Place: Kottaipattinam, Palk Bay

An adult male dugong was stranded off Kottaipattinam. Necropsy was carried out in presence of the Forest Department, Marine police and the forest veterinarian.


Date: 07/01/2020
Place: P R Pattinam, Palk Bay

An adult male dugong carcass was washed ashore in PR Pattinam, Palk Bay


Date: 02/01/2020
Place: Alagankulam, Palk Bay 

An adult dugong was washed ashore in Alagankulam. The posterior part of the carcass was completely decomposed.


Dugong Scholarship Examination:

Scholarship Examinations were conducted at 4 schools that were chosen as examination centres where students from 24 schools attempted the exam at their respective centres. Before the commencement of examinations at each of the centres, a short awareness programme was conducted for the students and staff of the schools. The programme included talks by officials from the forest department, fisheries department, coastal security group, representatives of the fisher community and members of the WII dugong recovery team, and felicitation of students who had qualified the previous year’s scholarship examination.


Apart from the centres, examinations were conducted individually in schools in more remote areas. 25 such schools were visited to conduct examinations.


Republic Day Celebrations 
Date: 26/01/2020
Venue: Chozhaganpettai Government High School, Palk Bay

The WII team was invited to attend the Republic Day celebrations at Chozhaganpettai Govt High school, Ramanathapuram district. Students presented dances, skits, songs and talks. The WII team gave away prizes and gave talks. A tree was also planted by us.


Pongal Celebrations 
Date: 14/01/2020
Venue: Panchayat Union Primary School, Thondi

Kadal Pasu Pongal Celebration at Panchayat Union Primary School, Thondi. Our team and the Forest department was involved in conducting the event. A small quiz programme was also conducted for the students and prizes were given away to the winners


Dugong Mortalities in the Month of December, 2019
Date: 17/12/2019
Place: Alagankulam, Palk Bay

An adult dugong was stranded on Alagankulam beach. The Wildlife Warden, GoMMNP, Range Forest Officer, Ramanathapuram and RFO trainees were present at the stranding location. A complete post-mortem was conducted.


Date: 01/12/2019
Place: Valinokkam 

A dead male dugong had shored on Valinokkam Beach. Efforts were made to preserve the animal (intact), however, they went in vain. The Range Forest officer, Forester, Guards and Anti-Poaching watchers of the forest department, Students from a Veterinary Hospital and local fishermen were present at the site.


Awareness Programme 
Date: 16-17/12/2019
Place” Devipattinam, Thiruppalaikkudi and Karangkadu, Palk Bay

The Forest Department, along with Arumbugal Trust, conducted an awareness event at three places on the Palk Bay coast, for which WII team was invited to be a part of. Local fishermen families comprised majority of the audience.


International conference on “Recent Advances in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation” (RAMBAC) 2019
Date: 12-13/12/2019
Venue: Alagappa University, Karaikudi 

Several guests from universities in France and India gave presentations about their work in the field of Marine Biology at the International Conference on “Recent Advances in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation” (RAMBAC), 2019, conducted by the School of Marine Sciences, Alagappa University, Karaikudi. Ms. Rukmini Shekar and Mr. Madhu Magesh of the WII team delivered oral presentations on the proceedings of the project so far, in the research component and outreach component, respectively. Ms. Rukmini Shekar bagged the Prize for the Best Presentation at the Conference. Ms. Caroline Christina presented a poster on the findings from the questionnaire surveys conducted in North Palk Bay region.


Research Activities for the month of November, 2019

The first survey along a 5 km eastward transect was conducted from Nambuthalai, Palk Bay. Quadrat data was collected at every half a km. Sediment and seagrass samples were also collected.

Dugong Mortalities in the Month of November, 2019

Date: 05/11/2019
Place: Alagankulam, Palk Bay 

A dead adult dugong was stranded off Alagankulam coast, Palk Bay.

Dugong Scholarship Examination (2019-2020)
Permissions and request for support from the District Education and Forest Departments of four districts- Thanjavur, Pudukottai, Ramanathapuram and Tuticorin, were obtained to ensure hassle-free conducting of the Dugong Scholarship Examination. Application Forms were distributed to all coastal government high and higher secondary schools that were chosen to allow their students to participate in the Dugong Scholarship Examination.

Dugong Mortalities in the Month of October, 2019
Date: 04/10/2019
Place: Kottaipattinam, Palk Bay

We were informed by the Marine Police that a dead dugong had shored off Kottapattinam Beach, Palk Bay. The Forest Department, Marine police and local fishermen were present at the site.


Research Activities for the Month of September, 2019

Questionnaire surveys were conducted in 2 coastal villages of Palk Bay to collect Traditional Ecological Knowledge from fisherfolk on Seagrass habitats, fisheries and Dugongs.

Pilot surveys to conduct Temporal Assessment of Seagrass using boat-based methods such as grabs, and capacity of researchers was tested from a trawl boat at a known location at Mandapam, Palk Bay. Seagrass presence was determined using grab and dives confirmed the presence. Corrections and betterment of methodologies were noted to be implemented for the next survey. Grab was tested even from a traditional boat at shallow depths
Dugong Rescue
Date: 25/09/2019
Place: Kottaipattinam, Palk Bay
Manamelkudi. The WII team was present at the station as the release happened before we could reach. The officials updated us regarding the same.

Training Programme on Wildlife Sample Collection Methods and Techniques
Date: 23/09/2019
Venue: Forest Department Office, Ramanathapuram 

Wildlife sample collection methods & Techniques were explained to the Ramnad Forest Department by Veterinarians and researchers of Advanced Institute for Wildlife Conservation, Chennai, at the Forest Department Office, Ramnad. They also requested the department to send samples to their institute for species identification and eco-toxicology studies to detect presence of disease. As the study was skewed towards terrestrial animals, the WII team helped provide insights into the marine aspects of the same. A small activity was conducted, where parts of animals that are likely to be found (like hair, whiskers, spines, bones, blood, etc.) were placed in random locations in a marked-off area. Collection and preservation techniques were introduced, demonstrated, and hands-on training for the same was provided for the department staff.


Beach Clean-up

Date: 21/09/2019
Venue: Thondi, Palk Bay
The fisheries department conducted a coastal clean-up at Thondi to mark International Coastal Clean-up Day. The WII team and members of a local Woman Self-Help Group at Thondi were part of the programme, with many local fisher volunteers.


Independence Day Celebrations
Date: 15/08/2019
Venue: Sethubhavachathiram, Palk Bay 

An awareness programme in the form of a tree-planting drive was conducted by the local youth group of Sethubavachathiram. Sociologists of the WII team were part of this and planted several saplings in the name of WII. The event was conducted at Sethubavachathiram Govt. School, Sethubavachathiram, Thanjavur District.


Research Activities for the Month of July, 2019

Questionnaire surveys were conducted in 22 coastal villages of Palk Bay to collect Traditional Ecological Knowledge from fisherfolk on Seagrass habitats, fisheries and Dugongs.


World Mangrove Day Celebrations
Date: 26-27/07/2019
Venue: Amala Annai School; and, Karngkadu Ecotourism Centre, Karangkadu, Palk Bay

Oratory, Drawing and Colouring competitions were conducted for the students of various grades at Amala Annai Hr. Sec. School, Karangkadu on 26th July, as part of the World Mangrove Day Celebrations, by the Tamil Nadu Forest Department. The WII team was invited to be a part and we helped conduct these competitions.

On 27th July, a rally was conducted at Karangkadu to create awareness about conserving and protecting marine life. The Assistant Conservator of Forests, Ramanathapuram, the District Forest Officer, Ramanathapuram and the Wildlife Warden, Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park started the rally that was flagged off by the Parish Priest of the Karangkadu Church. They were followed by students on bicycles, forest staff, the WII team and others running to catch up. A quiz competition was conducted by the WII team for the students. A Kayaking competition was conducted for the fishermen of the village. Winners of the competitions held on 26th and 27th July, 2019 were given prizes.


Submission of the Integrated Management Plan for the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park and Biosphere Reserve (2018-27)
Date: 20/07/2019
Venue: Forest Department Office, Ramanathapuram

The revised copy of the Integrated Management Plan for the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park and Biosphere Reserve (2018-27) was submitted to the Wildlife Warden, Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park at the office of the Wildlife Warden, Ramanathapuram, by Dr. K. Sivakumar and the CAMPA-Dugong Recovery team at Tamil Nadu.


Interview for Kadal Osai 90.4- a community FM Station
Date: 12/07/2019
Venue: Kadal Osai Office, Pamban 

Dr. K. Sivakumar gave an interview for the Community FM Station- Kadal Osai 90.4 for a programme called ‘Samudram Pazhagu’. His interview was the first to be aired in the series.


National fish farmer’s Day Awareness event at Panaikulam, Ramnathapuram District
ate: 10/07/2019
Venue: Panaikulam, Ramanathapuram

The Tamil Nadu Fisheries Department conducted an awareness event at Panaikulam, Palk Bay, to mark National Fish Farmers’ Day, 2019. A turtle rescuer (man) and a Seaweed farmer (woman) were felicitated during the occasion. Reliance Foundation released their new scheme to provide a daily weather forecast to fishermen via WhatsApp and the telecom network. Mr. S.B.Aravind, Temple Adventures, Pondicherry spoke about the role of SCUBA Diving in the fisheries sector.Mr. Satish, Range Forest Officer talked about the need to conserve marine life and the role of fishers in the same. Mr. Madhu Magesh from WII team talked about the importance of saving the Sea Cow and its habitat in the area.


Awareness Event 
Date: 02/07/2019
Venue: S. M. Boys Govt. Hr. Sec. School, Thondi 

The TN Coastal Security Group invited the WII team, Forest department and Fisheries department officials to attend a prize giving ceremony (for previously conducted events) cum awareness programme at SM Govt. Boys Hr. Sec. School, Thondi, Palk Bay.


Research Activities for the Month of June, 2019

Questionnaire surveys were conducted in 18 coastal villages of Palk Bay to collect Traditional Ecological Knowledge from fisherfolk on Seagrass habitats, fisheries and Dugongs.


Drone Testing:
Date: 12-15/06/2019:
Venue: Kodiyakkarai, Rajamadam, Mandapam, Dhanushkodi and Karangkadu, Palk Bay 

A drone was flown by Mr. Sajal Sharma, from WII, at Kodiakkarai to test its efficiency in high winds. It was successful and the drone proved to be very stable in spite of the winds normally expected to prevail over waters of Palk Bay. It was flown at Rajamadam on the following day. This time the path of the drone was defines. Clear images were obtained over a large area. As high winds are experienced at Dhanushkodi, drone trials were conducted to test the drone’s efficiency. The drone did well even under turbulent conditions. To introduce field staff to flying drones, an area with less wind like at Karangkadu, was chosen. The drone was flown from the watch tower at Karangkadu.


ICAR-NBFGR Awareness Programme:
Date: 17-18/06/2019
Venue: Madurai Kamrajar University hall, Pudumadam, Gulf of Mannar

Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s - National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources (ICAR-NBFGR) Awareness programme on Marine biodiversity, Conservation & utility of aquaculture and as alternate livelihood option for the fishers in GoM biosphere region at Madurai Kamrajar University hall, Pudumadam. About 500 fishing community members from four villages- Vedalai, Pudumadam, Panaikulam and Alagankulam attended the event. Mr. Ashok Kumar IFS, Wildlife Warden, GoMMNP, and officials from ICAR-NBFGR, NBA and Madurai Kamaraj University were present for the inaugural function. Mr. K. Veera Raghavan IAS, Collector, Ramanathapuram graced the occasion on the second day and delivered his speech for the valedictory function. Speakers from Annamalai University, CMLRE, ICAR institutes, WII team, NGO’s (Jehovah Shamma Centre for Marine Research) spoke to the community with an aim to carry forward science to the common man.


Awareness Programmes:
Date: 12/06/2019
Venue: Kodiyakkarai, Anthoniyarpuram and Therukku Pudukkudi, Palk Bay 

40-50 local fishermen, members of Fisheries and Forest department, and, the WII team attended/participated in a beach clean-up and tree-planting event conducted by the TN Coastal Security Group (Marine police) at Kodiyakkarai, Pudukottai district.

On the same day, Local fishermen, members of Fisheries and Forest department, and, the WII team attended/participated in an awareness programme conducted by the TN Coastal Security Group (Marine police) at Anthoniyarpuram and Therukku Pudukkudi, Pudukottai District. Over 300 fishermen attended the programmes.


Training Course for IFS Officers
Date: 02-04/06/2019

14 IFS officer trainees from WII visited Gulf of Mannar as part of their field trip. The WII team presented their work and gave them insights into Dugong conservation, threats and actions that need to be taken in this regard. Wildlife Warden, Mr Ashok Kumar presented to them the status of Gulf of Mannar biosphere reserve and the activities undertaken by the forest department on the area. Special training was given on field techniques like snorkelling and identification of few common species of this region. The field training was conducted at Kurusadai Island, Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park.Mr. Manoj, CCF, Uttarakhand visited several mangrove areas along Palk Bay coast (near Karangkadu, Thiruppalaikkudi, etc.) and also, our field site at Thondi. He appreciated the team and all work done


Research Activities for the month of May, 2019 

4 sociologists, along with 2 interns were introduced to conducting questionnaire surveys (TEK surveys) for coastal fisher community, following which, surveys were conducted in 6 villages.

 Seagrass surveys were conducted at Valai and Talaiyari Islands of Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park.


Research Activities for the month of April, 2019

Village details (and Fisheries related information) were collected from 64 coastal villages in Palk Bay. Questionnaire surveys to understand economic value of seagrass associated sea food were carried out at 2 major markets on the Palk Bay coast. 30 points were assessed for fish behavioural studies; and, 7 people were interviewed regarding the same.


Dugong Mortality in the Month of April, 2019
Date: 10/04/2019
Place: Ammapattinam, Palk Bay

A dead adult female dugong that was most likely to have been killed by a propeller hit had washed up ashore on Ammapattinam beach, Palk Bay. The forest department (Mr. Rajashekar, RFO, Pudukottai and an Anti-Poaching Watcher) and Marine Police (Mr. Rajkumar, SI, Manamelkudi) was also present.


3rd Special Training Course on Hands-on Training towards Underwater Marine Biodiversity Monitoring with SCUBA Diving
Date: 25-28th -04-2019
Venue: Ramanathapuram, Ariyaman Beach, Mandapam 

The four-day long training programme, third of its kind, began with an inaugural program conducted at the Forest Department Conference Hall, Ramanathapuram. The occasion was graced by Mr Vanniya Perumal IPS, Additionaal Director General of Police, Tamil Nadu, Mr. T. K. Ashok Kumar IFS, Wildlife Warden, Gulf of Mannar Marine Biosphere Reserve, Mr Raj Kumar, Assistant Conservator of Forest, Ramanathapuram, and Mr S. B. Aravind (dive instructor for the course) Director, Temple Adventures, Pondicherry. The participants of the course were 12 in number, with 5 from the Tamil Nadu Forest Department (2 foresters from Ramanathapuram, 2 foresters from Trichy and one forest watcher from Pudukottai division), 5 from the Tamil Nadu Coastal Security Group (3 Sub-Inspectors from Pudukottai and 3 Sub-Inspectors Ramanathapuram district) and 2 participants from the fishing community, who are also active Dugong Volunteers. On the second day, the participants assembled at Ariyaman beach for their first confined water dive. The third day of the training started with briefing and a demonstration of few techniques, followed by the first open water dive assisted by the Temple Adventures team and a second dive near the coral patches of Mandapam in two batches respectively. On the fourth day, the participants attended the theory and practical session of biodiversity monitoring conducted by Ms. Rukmini Shekar and Mr. Madhu Magesh from WII. The valedictory event was attended by the Wildlife Warden, Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve, Mr. Ashok Kumar andMr. S. B. Aravind. The participants shared their experience and opinions. A presentation about the project and its aspects was delivered by Mr. Madhu Magesh. The vote of thanks for this occasion was delivered by Ms. Chinmaya Ghanekar, INSPIRE Fellow, Dugong Recovery Project, WII.


World Earth Day Celebrations: Underwater Beach Clean-up with Stakeholders
Date: 24/04/2019
Venue: Mandapam, Palk Bay 

Range Forest Officer, 2 Foresters and 3 Anti-poaching Watchers from Ramanathapuram range, 2 volunteers from Temple Adventures, Pondicherry: Aravind and Deebika, and Madhu Magesh and Rukmini Shekar from The Dugong Recovery Project, WII were involved in an underwater clean-up program as part of World Earth Day Celebrations.


Coral Bleaching Event:
Date: 20/04/2019
Venue: Mandapam, Palk Bay 

During an exploratory survey at Mandapam, Palk Bay, the WII team observed bleached corals in the region. This was reported to the Forest Department as a possible bleaching event. This was later confirmed by Suganthi Devadasan Marine Research Institute (a Tuticorin-based NGO) during their surveys. A local newspaper reported that a bleaching event from April 15-24th, 2019. In ‘The Hindu’, the event was reported to have occurred on 21st April, 2019. Link to the article in ‘The Hindu’: http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/corals-in-gulf-of-mannar-fee...


Dugong Mortality in the Month of March, 2019
Date: 14/03/2019
Place: Adhipattinam, Palk Bay 

2 adult dugongs (one male and one pregnant female) were entangled in a fishing net and brought ashore on the coast of Ammapattinam, Palk Bay. The male dugong was successfully rescued; however, the female could not be rescued. Unfortunately, as it was not known that the female was pregnant, she was chosen to be rescued second. The fishermen, marine police, forest department, OMCAR team and the WII team were involved in the rescue.


Date: 02/03/2019
Place: Mimisal, Palk Bay
A female dugong was stranded off Mimisal coast, Palk Bay.

The dead strandings of two more dugongs on the Gulf of Mannar coast were suspected cases of poaching and the matter is being taken care of by the Tamil Nadu Forest Department.


Community Meeting:
Date: 28/03/2019
Venue: Manamelkudi, Palk Bay

As part of the Awareness programme conducted by the Pudukottai Forest Department, the WII team participated and created awareness about dugongs, seagrasses and their conservation among the fishing community in the area. About 60 people attended the meeting.



Awareness Programme for Students:
Date: 25/03/2019
Venue: 8 Schools of Ramanathapuram District 

The WII team along with OMCAR foundation were invited by the TNFD to create awareness about conservation of biodiversity, with emphasis on dugongs and seagrasses at 8 schools in Ramnad District. The reach was overwhelming with about 800 school students making up majority of the audience.


Community Meeting:
Date: 23/03/2019
Venue: Kattumavadi, Palk Bay 

The WII team created awareness among the fisher community, as part of the Meetings conducted by the Tamil Nadu Fisheries Department, at Kattumavadi, Palk Bay regarding Dugongs and seagrass conservation in the form of a discussion and oral presentation. About 60 members of the community attended the meeting.


Capacity Building for Students:
Date: 15/03/2019
Venue: Mandapam, Palk Bay 

WII team conducted a field training programme for students from Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Nagarcoil campus, Tamil Nadu, with hands-on training on sea grass and coral habitat monitoring surveys using snorkelling as a tool. 20 students, accompanied by 2 professors attended the training.


National Awareness Conference on the Values of Biodiversity and its Conservation:
Date: 08/03/2019
Venue: Dr. Ambedkar Govt. Arts College, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Mr. Madhu Magesh presented our work as an oral as well as a poster presentation, and won the Best Poster Award at the conference, where over 250 people had attended.



Dugong Mortality in the Month of April, 2019
Date: 28/02/2019
Place: Manthiripattinam, Palk Bay 

Three kilograms of dugong meat was seized by the Tamil Nadu Coastal Security Group and the accused were caught.

Date: 07/02/2019
Place: Manamelkudi, Palk Bay
A dead dugong washed ashore at Manamelkudi, Palk Bay.

Dugong Scholarship Programme:

Examinations were conducted in all schools selected to participate in the Dugong Scholarship Programme for the academic year 2018-2019. Students of 9th and 11th std, coming from the fishing community and studying in government schools were only permitted to attempt the examination. Over a period of 6 days in the month of February, 2019, examinations were conducted at various schools from three coastal districts- Thanjavur, Pudukottai and Ramanathapuram districts, along Tamil Nadu’s Palk Bay coast. 5 schools were chosen as examination centres where 20 other schools sent their students to centres nearest to them. In 19 other schools, exams were conducted individually in each school. Every exam session began with an inaugural function where officials from the forest, fisheries, marine police departments, members of the fishing community and WII project staff interacted with the students regarding various aspects of conserving dugongs and other marine organisms. Saplings were given to every participating school and students who had cleared the previous year’s examination were given special mention. A total of 1140 students out of over 1300 who had applied, appeared for the examination.


Awareness Meeting
Date: 15/02/2019
Venue: Muthupet, Palk Bay 

Our team was invited by the Thiruvarur Forest Department to for an awareness programme conducted by them to create awareness about the importance of marine biodiversity and its protection. We got a platform to explain the same with special focus on dugongs and seagrasses to the fishermen and other stakeholders at Thiruvarur. About 50 people attended the programme from the fishing community.


Stall at Marine Exhibition
Date: 12-14/02/2019
Venue: Tuticorin

The team was involved in setting up an exhibit at Kamaraj College, Tuticorin, at the Marine Exhibition conducted by the Forest Department, to showcase marine biodiversity, with importance to dugongs and seagrasses, and demonstrate the techniques used for biodiversity monitoring with importance to snorkelling and SCUBA diving. The crowd of more than a 1000 people was diverse with forest officials, school students, college students, teachers and others.


Dugong Mortality in the Month of January, 2019:
Date: 28/01/2019
Place: Tiruchendur, Gulf of Mannar

An adult dugong was stranded off Tiruchendur beach, Gulf of Mannar. It was the first time since the inception of the Dugong Recovery Project, that dugongs had been reported so far south.


Meeting with MoEFCC official:
Date: 21/01/2019
Venue: Kurusadai and Shingle Island, Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park

The TN WII team was invited by the RFO, Mandapam to meet with Dr. Tashi Wangdi, Director and Member Secretary, Indian National MAB Committee, Govt. of India, MoEF & CC, who was on a visit to the Marine National Park to monitor, inspect and interact with officials/stakeholders of Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve Trust. We discussed the problems faced by people in and out of the Marine National Park, activities conducted by us and the role of us and the forest department in making the reserve a better place for the biodiversity and the communities living in it. There was a field visit to shingle island with and Kurusadai Island, where salt marshes, coral and seagrass ecosystems were shown to him.


Awareness Meeting:
Date: 12/01/2019
Venue: Ramanthapuram

Mr. Satish, RFO, Mandapam, conducted a meeting and discussion session for Foresters, Forest guards and Anti-poaching watchers with the Mr. P. Balamurugan, District Munsif cum Judicial Magistrate, Thiruvadanai Court, and the WII Team. This provided a platform to discuss wildlife related issues with different levels of the forest department and legal issues related to filing cases and protection measures.


Biodiversity Monitoring Training for SCUBA certified Frontline staff of the TN Forest Department
Date: 04/01/2019 and 20/01/2019
Venue: Kurusadai Island, Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park; and, Mandapam, Palk Bay

In the sheltered reef and seagrass patches of Kurusadai Island,15 SCUBA Certified frontline staff and 7 other forest department staff from Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar region were trained to monitor marine biodiversity in the region using basic monitoring techniques. Dr. Sivakumar conducted the training programme, with the TN team to help and assist. Mr. Krishna and Mr. Prathap also demonstrated the use of drones in aerial monitoring as well. Mr. Rajkumar, ACF, Ramanathapuram, Mr. Satish, RFO, Mandapam and Mr. Guna, Forester, Mandapam also attended the training session.

As a follow-up of the training conducted on 04/01/2019, 15 members of the TN Forest department (forest guards and anti-poaching watchers) were given an additional practical session of biodiversity monitoring along with a demonstration of how to use a compressor on 20/01/2019 at Mandapam, Palk Bay.

Dugong Scholarship Programme:
Date: 22/12/2018  

A 20 page study material (in Tamil) was provided to each student who had applied for the Dugong scholarship Examination, from the 50 schools across 3 districts. The material was distributed on the same day to all schools.


Date: 06-19/12/2018  

Application forms were collected from all schools and verified to make sure only eligible students were issued admit cards.


Drone Testing and Boat Survey:

Date: 02-03/01/2019:
Venue: Mallipattinam, Palk Bay

5 boats were used for a mass boat survey in the north Palk Bay area with at least 2 fishermen and one researcher on board. In order to start aerial surveys, the Phantom Pro+ drone was tested by Mr. Krishna and Mr. Prathap, with Dr. K. Ramesh’s (Scientist-E, WII) permission and guidance, and under the supervision of Dr. K. Sivakumar. The testing was a successful one, allowing us to understand and analyse the constraints and advantages of the drone.


Dugong Mortalities in the Month of December, 2018:
Date: 07/12/2018
Place: Vembar, Gulf of Mannar

An adult dugong that had stranded on Vembar beach, Gulf of Mannar was possibly poached, as the injury on the animal was unnatural and not accidental.


Awareness Programme:
Date: 02/12/2018
Venue: Mullimunai and Pudupattinam, Palk Bay  

A one-day awareness programme in Mullimunai and Pudupattinam was conducted jointly by the TN Forest Department and Karunya trust (an organization that uses folk dances and entertainment programmes to create awareness about legal and illegal hunting and fishing practices, and importance of marine species such as dugongs, turtles, etc.), for which the WII team was invited to be a part. The WII team was present and explained the importance of Dugong presence in Palk Bay waters and made the community take an oath for long-term conservation of Dugongs in Palk Bay.


Dugong Scholarship Programme:
Date: 19-20/11/2018 and 26-28/11/2018           

Application forms were distributed to 52 schools for the students to participate in the Scholarship Examination. Only 9th and 11th Standard students whose parents/guardian possessed a ‘fisherman identity card’ were eligible to appear for the examination. We also visited the District Educational Officer and District Forest Officer (WLW), Ramanathapuram, Pudukottai and Thanjavur Districts, to request for permission and support to conduct the examination.


Date: 22/11/2018

The team visited coastal 31 government high schools and higher secondary schools selected to participate in the Dugong Scholarship Examination, 2018. These schools were to be newly included this year.


Field Trip for M.Sc. Wildlife Biology Students of Wildlife Institute of India: 
Date: 22-24/11/2018 

WII Msc. Wildlife Biology 2017-19 batch visited the Gulf of Mannar as part of their field trip from 22nd-24th November, 2018 along with Dr. J. A. Johnson and Dr. G. V. Gopi and researchers from WII- Mr. Frank and Mr. Paul Peter. On 23rd Nov, TN Dugong team along with the TNFD, accompanied them to Muyal Thivu (Hare Island), the 7th island of the Mandapam Group of Islands. They were introduced to field techniques such as Snorkeling and SCUBA Diving. The students could explore the coral and seagrass ecosystems around the island. The afternoon session included a discussion with the forest Range Officer, Mandapam, Mr. Satish, where they discussed about the challenges and opportunities in managing the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park. Their day ended with a visit to Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi. On the next day, they were taken to Nallathanni Island, the first island of Vembar group of Islands. The students got an opportunity to snorkel in the waters around this island as well.


Video of a live dugong:
Date: 21/11/2018
Venue: Thondi

We conducted a boat survey off Thondi coast on getting information from a Dugong volunteer (fisherman) about a recent dugong sighting (with calf). The evidence was in the form of a video and is hence the first video of a dugong in the wild from Tamil Nadu.


Dugong Release:
Date: 01/11/2018
Place: Ammapattinam, Palk Bay

A dugong that was entangled in fishing net was rescued by the fishermen, TN WII team, Marine Police, TNFD and OMCAR foundation, overnight at Ammapattinam. The rescue was successful, resulting in the release of an adult dugong.


Marine Exhibition:
Date: 05/10/2018
Venue: Mohammed Sathak Dasthagir B. Ed. College, Ramanathapuram

A self-explanatory stall was set up at a Marine Exhibition conducted by the Tamil Nadu Forest Department at Ramanathapuram. Dugong Volunteers and the Forest department explained our work and created awareness about seagrass and Dugong research and conservation. Over 1000 people including school students, teachers, college students and the general public attended the exhibition.


Awareness Programme:
Date: 20/09/2018
Venue: Karangkadu, Palk Bay

Our Dugong Volunteers participated in an awareness programme conducted by the Tamil Nadu Forest Department at Karangkadu, where the Wildlife Warden, Mr. Ashok Kumar IFS also addressed the fishing community to create awareness about the pros and cons of illegal fishing, poaching and hunting of protected marine species.


Awareness Programme:
Date: 19/09/2019
Venue: SP Pattinam and Thondi Pudukkudi, Palk Bay

Our Dugong Volunteers participated in an awareness programme conducted by the Tamil Nadu Forest Department at two coastal villages of Palk Bay. They created awareness about dugong protection and the role of the Dugong Recovery Project of WII for the same.


Coral Reef Conservation Rapid Response Plan Meeting, Tuticorin

SCUBA Diving with Biodiversity Monitoring Training for frontline staff of Forest Department

Our team at TN organized for SCUBA training for the frontline staff of the Tamil Nadu Forest Department to enhance the capacity for better monitoring of the coastal biodiversity from the 13th-19th, August, 2018. 5 forest officials of the Forester rank, trained by Mr.Aravind, Temple Adventures, Pondicherry,have been given certification by PADI, Australia as Open-Water SCUBA Divers and are prepared to monitor the coastal biodiversity. The event attracted the attention of Forest Staff from all ranks- DFO, ACF and RFO, to dive and it was a great encouragement for the new students.

SCUBA Course with Marine Biodiversity Training Course for Foresters
Dugong Rescue

On 26th July, 2018, Keezhathottam Village near Ammapattinam in Palk Bay witnessed the rescue of the fourth Dugong in India. The Dugong was entangled in a fishing net. The Fishermen, WII team, OMCAR (an NGO) and the Marine Police aided in the rescue mission which was flawlessly accomplished by the fishermen. On 08th August, 2018, Fishermen (both, rescuers and informers) were given compensation by the CAMPA- Dugong Recovery Project, for loss of net and profit in the form of a prize money (Rs. 10,000/- for rescuer Mr.Naguram and Rs.3,000/- for informer, Mr.Chelladurai) by TN PCCF and TBGP Director, Mr.Jagdish IFS, WLW, Ramanathapuram, GoMMNP, Mr. Ashok Kumar IFS, DFO, Thanjavur, Mr.Guruswamy and DFO, Tiruvarur, Mr.Arivoli. About 70 members from the fishing community including women and children attended the function.

Dugong Rescue and Incentive Programme
Marine Biodiversity Monitoring

The Tamil Nadu Forest Department entrusted us with the responsibility to conduct a one-day biodiversity monitoring of the Seagrass and Coral Restoration Efforts by the TNFD and SDMRI at Mandapam and Thondi, Palk Bayusing snorkelling and SCUBA diving on 8th August, 2018. The event was headed by the TN PCCF and Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Greening Project Director, Mr.Jagdish IFS, Wildlife Warden, Ramanathapuram and Gulf of MannarMarine National Park, Mr. Ashok Kumar IFS and Ramanthapuram ACF, Mr. C. Rajkumar. Required data in the forl of photographs were provided to the TNFD.

Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park and Biosphere Reserve Management Plan

Dr. K. Sivakumar and the our Team at Tamil Nadu presented the Draft Management Plan for the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park to the Wildlife Warden at Ramnad and officially declared it open for suggestions by anyone on 9th April, 2018 The same was also tweeted by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Environments and Forests on 19thApril, 2018. On 27th July, 2018, the Draft Management Plan was presented by Dr. K. Sivakumar to Mr.Raghunathan IFS, former PCCF, TNFD, Mr. Sanjay Srivastav IFS, CWLW, TNFD, Mr.Debasis Jana IFS, ACCF, TNFD and Mr. Ashok Kumar IFS, WLW, Ramanathapuram (GoMMNP) at the office of the TN PCCF, Chennai. Changes in the draft plan and suggestions were discussed.

Submission of Draft Management Plan to the Wildlife Warden
Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park Management Plan Meeting, Chennai
Mass Boat Surveys

4 fishing boats were hired to conduct the first set of mass boat surveys in Mandapam area, Palk Bay on the 10th of June, 2018. Each boat was led by a researcher from our team, a forest guard, a boat man and one or 2 others from the fishing community to help in efficient sighting of marine macrofauna and plastic. Although the sea state did not favour our surveys as we ventured into deeper waters, there was a very good interaction with several fishermen who accompanied us. We have got several more members added to our network and they have already reported marine mammal (even dugong) sightings in their area. They now have the ‘Save Dugong’ mobile application installed on their smart phones and have agreed to take dugong conservation to the community level in a more effective and systematic manner. T-shirts were distributed to all. A similar survey was conducted at Ammapattinam, Palk Bay on the 10th of July, 2018. These surveys, more than being effective methods to sight Dugongs and other marine mammals, proved to be more useful to build our rapport with the local community from the point of view of involving them in our research activities.

Mass Boat Survey at Mandapam
Mass Boat Survey at Ammapattinam
Outreach Programmes for 5 days

Our team from Thondi was invited to talk about dugongs at the community meetings conducted by the Tamil Nadu Fisheries Department at Soliyakudi, Pasipattinam, Thondi, Devipattinam and Thirupalaikudi for 5 consecutive days from 26th -29th June, 2018. We got an opportunity to meet with village heads and fishermen in order to strengthen our network.

Talk about dugongs at the community meetings conducted by the Tamil Nadu Fisheries Department
Intentional Capture of a Dugong in Thondi

On the 20th of June, 2018, the Marine Police of Thondi arrested three fishermen who had intentionally captured a 10-ft long fully grown adult male Dugong. We were informed about this by a member of our Friends of Dugong Network as well as the Marine Police. Post mortem was carried out by us under the guidance of a Government veterinarian. Worms were found in the dugong’s stomach. Samples were collected to be sent for genetic analysis. This served as an important awareness creation event against poaching as members of two villages witnessed the post-mortem that exposed the horrific sight of stomach worms in the Dugong. Also, it showed people how our viscera did not differ (in names and appearance) much from the dugong’s; hence sending the message that the dugong is just like us and must not be killed. The arrest of the 3 fishermen and seizing of the boat did show the people the result of committing such a crime.

Intentional Dugong Capture 20 June 2018
World Ocean Day Celebrations

We were part of the World Ocean Day celebrations on 5th June, 2018, organized by the Tamil Nadu Fisheries Dept. Forest dept., people from CMFRI, the Coast Guard and Marine Police, who all addressed the gathering. Men and women of the fishing community attended the meeting. We interacted with the fishermen and emphasised the need to conserve dugongs and other endangered marine organisms.

Dugong Awareness Meeting at World Ocean Day celebrations
Beach Clean-up at World Ocean Day celebrations
When Mr.Dhritiman Mukherjee visited us

We got an opportunity to spend time with India's only full-time still-photographer- Mr. Dhritiman Mukherjee, who visited Tamil Nadu from 28th May to 1st June, 2018. We introduced him to the unique biodiversity of the seagrass and coral ecosystems in different spots at both, Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay. He was very impressed with the unexplored biodiversity here.

Our Team with Mr.Dhritiman Mukherjee
A Squid and a Snapper at Palk Bay, the way Mr.Dhritiman’s camera sees them
World Biodiversity Day Celebrations

On 22nd May, 2018, 29 Dugong ambassadors participated in the World Biodiversity Day celebrations at Ariyaman Beach. The day began with Rangoli competitions for women from EDC, followed by an awareness rally by the dugong ambassadors, an introduction to Turtle Exclusion Device for fishermen and participants by the Range Forest Officer, Mandapam Range and a beach clean-up programme by our dugong ambassadors, EDC members and other volunteers present at the venue.

Awareness rally by the dugong ambassadors in World Biodiversity Day celebrations at Ariyaman Beach
Capacity Building for Forest Officials:
The team helped 2 of the frontline staff of Tamil Nadu Forest Department at Thondi to develop their skills needed to monitor the coastal biodiversity on 17th March, 2018. The IFS course students from WII were brought to the Gulf of Mannar as an extended field visit for three days from 16th to 19th May, 2018. The programme began with a description of the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park and its biodiversity by the Wildlife Warden, Ramanathapuram (Mr. Ashok Kumar, IFS), followed by a briefing of all the activities and initiatives of the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve Trust (GoMBRT) by the Range Forest Officer, GoMBRT (Mr.Raghuvaran) and our project work was exhibited to them in the form of a presentation and talk by our team members (Mr.PremJothi, Ms.RukminiShekar and Mr.MadhuMagesh). On the 2nd and 3rd days, the 10 IFS officers from India (4) and Myanmar (5) were introduced to tools and techniques (snorkelling, forest management practices in protected marine areas and identifying living organisms in the sea) used to carry out research and monitoring in the coastal environment. Common animals and shore types were shown and explained to them, such as sandy shores, coral reefs and seagrass beds in both Gulf of Mannar MNP (Krusadai Island) and Palk Bay (Karangkadu). They also visited the self-help group (in Tirupulani) where women make baskets and mats using palm leaves.
IFS officers visit to Self-help group at Tirupulani IFS officers at Ramanathapuram
Meetings with NGO’s to extend our network

On 10th April, 2018, the team, along with our Project Investigator, Dr. K. Sivakumar, met with M.P. Vasimalai and T.Asaithambi of Dhaan Foundation at Madurai. The NGO showed a positive response to our initiative and has even agreed to sign anMoU in regard with the same.

Our team presented our work to Dr.Sesh Serabiah and other members of his NGO: Jehovah Shamma Centre for Marine and Wildlife Research at Mudiveerapattinam, in Palk Bay to discuss the aims of our project, our need for volunteers, status of seagrass and also the status of Gulf of Mannar Seas. They agreed to work with us. We also discussed the GoM management plan and possible inclusions and corrections.

Meeting with NGO (Dhaan Foundation, Madurai)
Meeting with NGO (Jehovah Shamma Centre for Marine and Wildlife Research, Mudiveerapattinam, Palk Bay)
Capacity Building for students

About 7 Students from Alagappa University, Thondi (on 13th March, 2018) and 20 from Syed Hameedha College, Kilakarai (on 27th March, 2018) were introduced to the important tools in marine research: Snorkeling and SCUBA diving, by our team here in Thondi. Along with this, they were told about the variety of marine life in the seagrass and coral ecosystems of the region and the need to conserve this diversity. Alagappa University students were given field training at Thondi, whereas the latter were given their training at Nallathanni Island, Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, where forest officials participated in the training as well.

Capacity building for students of Alagappa University, Thondi at Thondi
Capacity building for students of Syed Hameedha College, Kilakarai at Nallathanni Island
Meeting with Coast Guard

The Tamil Nadu team of the CAMPA-Dugong Recovery Programme presented the project’s work in the region, and explained how we could use help from the Indian Coast Guard, to 32 Indian Coast Guard officials, including the Commander-in-chief and two Commandants, on the 15th of March, 2018. We discussed the issue of lack of data about dugong and other marine mammal sightings and that they could help fill this gap. They readily accepted the data sheets we gave away and agreed to provide information regarding the same. They also invited us to be part of their fishermen awareness programme to talk about safe fishing practices later that day, where we also interacted with the fishermen telling them about our project and the urgency to save Dugongs.

Meeting at Coast Guard Station ,Mandapam
Meetings at Coast guard station, Mandapam and Fishing community meeting at Mandapam
Dugong and endangered marine species awareness programme

On the 7th and 10th of March, 2018, The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve Trust with the CAMPA-Dugong Recovery Team, Wildlife Institute of India together conducted awareness programmes at five villages in Ramanathapuram District in Palk Bay. Arumbugal Trust, an organization that creates awareness about saving the marine biodiversity using folklore as a means of communication, were invited and the programmes were a grand success, attracting fisher folk from all age groups and levels in village administration.

Awareness programmes in 5 Fishing villages of Palk Bay

Rally for Clean Beaches and a Clean-up drive (Feb 9, 2018)

On the 9th of February, 2018, The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve Trust (GoMBRT) with the CAMPA-Dugong Recovery Team, Wildlife Institute of India conducted a rally and beach clean-up programme at Chinna Ervadi Beach for school students to emphasize the importance of keeping beaches clean and create awareness about the marine life that is being impacted by plastic pollution and littering in general. Slogans to protect endangered marine species, dugongs, in particular, to reduce plastic usage and stop littering were called out in both English and Tamil during the rally. Students then filled up several bags with plastic trash from the beach and the amount collected in a short time span of 20 minutes, took the students by surprise. The GoMBRT provided the students with t-shirts and caps.

Rally at Chinna Ervadi Talk after the rally with enthusiastic students
Students cleaning Ervadi beach Students cleaning Ervadi beach
Talk after the clean-up with students Talk after the clean-up with students

Marine Exhibitions at Ramanathapuram (6- 8 Feb) and Tuticorin (Feb 13-15, 2018)

The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve Trust (GoMBRT) organised exhibitions for school and college students for 3 days each at Ramanathapuram and Tuticorin to create awareness about the marine biodiversity of Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve and the conservation status of the Marine National Park’s ecosystems. WII’s CAMPA-Dugong Recovery Team exhibited the project’s work at both exhibitions to carry the word of Dugong Conservation yet further. Facts on Dugongs and their biology were communicated in the form of banners and talks. The role of Dugongs as an umbrella species in the seagrass ecosystem and the significance of seagrasses in Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar waters were also discussed in detail. We also put on display a model of a SCUBA Diver to introduce this exciting yet important tool to explore marine life to young minds.


CAMPA- Dugong Recovery Program exhibit in Ramanathapuram

CAMPA- Dugong Recovery Program exhibit in Tuticorin

Interacting with students at Tuticorin Marine Life Exhibition

Interacting with students at Ramnathapuram Marine Life Exhibition
Interacting with students at Ramnathapuram Marine Life Exhibition Interview for documentary by Care Earth Trust – NGO, Chennai, at Ramnathapuram Marine Life Exhibition
Students at Ramnathapuram Marine Life Exhibition Interacting with Wildlife Warden, GOMMNP at Tuticorin Marine Life Exhibition
Students at Tuticorin Marine Life Exhibition  
Underwater marine biodiversity monitoring training for Range Forest Officers (January - 5th & 9th 2018)

Range Forest Officers from Mandapam Range and the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve Trust (GoMBRT) were given Marine Biodiversity monitoring training by the Wildlife Institute of India as part of CAMPA-Dugong Recovery Programme on the 5th and 9th of January, 2018. The programme included SCUBA diving sessions in the Mandapam group of islands of the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, and discussion. These officers were sponsored by WII to be certified as open water SCUBA driver by PADI.

Forest range officers with CAMPA –WII Dugong team learning underwater marine biodiversity monitoring using SCUBA
Genetic sampling technique training to Tamil Nadu Forest Department (January 17, 2018)

Genetic sampling techniques to preserve tissue or DNA samples were introduced to the Tamil Nadu Forest Department to facilitate sampling of stranded animals. Tissue sampling vials, along with the collection protocol were presented to the Wildlife Warden at Ramanathapuram Forest Department by the CAMPA- Dugong Recovery Team

Presenting the tissue sample kits to Range Forest Officer by GoM Wildlife Warden
Interactive session with Range Forest Officers and Snorkelling Training programme (January 27th & 28th 2018):

On a tour to Tamil Nadu as part of their training programme, 32 Range Forest Officers, a Divisional Forest Officer and two Assistant Conservators of Forest, from the Forest Training Academy, Maharashtra, and the Wildlife Warden, Ramanathapuram, were addressed by the CAMPA- Dugong Recovery Team at Ramanathapuram Forest Department Office. With an introduction to Dugongs and their biology, the CAMPA -Dugong Recovery Program was explained to them. A field visit to Krusadai Island in the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park was organised on the next day to introduce them to field techniques like snorkelling and line transect surveys to monitor underwater marine biodiversity

Interactive session with Trainee Forest Range Officers from Maharashtra Academy
Interactive session with Trainee Forest Range Officers from Maharashtra Academy
Field visit with Trainee Forest Range Officers from Maharashtra Academy
Coastal Clean-up Rally and clean-up drive (January 30, 2018):

A coastal clean-up rally and beach clean-up programme was organised by the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve Trust (GoMBRT) in association with the CAMPA-Dugong Recovery Program team, Wildlife Institute of India. The school students were made aware of biodiversity of coastal areas and apprised of the need to keep beaches clean and negative impacts of littering. All students pledged to stop usage of plastic, and more importantly, to not contribute to plastic pollution during the rally. Students enthusiastically collected plastic trash on the beach and collected large amounts of litter in a short time span

CAMPA –WII Dugong team with Dugong Ambassadors for Coastal Clean-up Drive
Range Forest Officer talking to young Dugong Ambassadors about the importance of marine ecosystem
Young Dugong Ambassadors in action during coastal clean-up drive
Appreciation mementos to Young Dugong Ambassadors by WII-Dugong team and Forest officials during coastal clean-up drive