Tag Archives: marine life

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY 06: F for Flora and Fauna

Flora of the Islands
These Islands are blessed with a unique’ luxuriant evergreen tropical rain forest canopy, sheltering a mixed germ palms bank, comprising of Indian, Myanmarese, Malaysian and endemic floral strain. So far, about 2200,varieties of plants have been recorded out of which 200 are endemic and 1300 do not occur in mainland India. 

The Mangroves of Andaman and Nicobar Islands PC – Saketh

“The South Andaman forests have a profuse growth of epiphytic vegetation, mostly ferns and orchids. The Middle Andamans harbours mostly moist deciduous forests. North Andamans is characterized by the wet evergreen type, with plenty of woody climbers. The north Nicobar Islands (including Car Nicobar and Battimalv) are marked by the complete absence of evergreen forests, while such forests form the dominant vegetation in the central and southern islands of the Nicobar group. Grasslands occur only in the Nicobars, and while deciduous forests are common in the Andamans, they are almost absent in the Nicobars”. 

This atypical forest coverage is made-up of twelve types namely.

(1) Giant evergreen forest
(2) Andamans tropical evergreen forest
(3) Southern hilltop tropical evergreen forest
(4) Cane brakes
(5) Wet bamboo brakes
(6) Andamans semi-evergreen forest
(7) Andamans moist deciduous forest
(8) Andamans secondary moist deciduous forest
(9) Littoral forest
(10) Mangrove forest
(11) Brackish water mixed forest
(12) Submontane hill valley swamp forest.
The present forest coverage is claimed to be 86.2% of the total land area.

Sunlight beams finding it way through the dense forests PC – Nelson Raju

Andaman Forest is abound in plethora of timber species numbering 200 or more, out of which about 30 varieties are considered to be commercial. Major commercial timber species are Gurjan (Dipterocarpus spp.) and Padauk (Pterocarpus dalbergioides). Ornamental wood such as (1) Marble Wood (Diospyros marmorata) (2) Padauk (Pterocarpus dalbergioides), (3) Silver Grey (a special formation of wood in white chuglam) (4) Chooi (Sageraea elliptical and (5) Kokko (Albizzia lebbeck) are noted for their pronounced grain formation.  Padauk being steadier than teak is widely used for furniture making. With its abundance in the islands, its called the State Tree of the islands. Burr and the Buttress formation in Andaman Padauk are World famous for their exceptionally unique charm and figuring. Largest piece of Buttress known from Andaman was a dining table of 13’x 7′. The largest piece of Burr was again a dining table to seat eight persons at a time. The holy Rudraksha (Elaeocarps sphaericus) and aromatic Dhoop/Resin trees also occur here. There is one Rudraksha tree near my uncle’s home 🙂 

You can find almost all the tropical fruits in these islands like any other tropical region but there is one rare fruit which is found and eaten in the Nicobar islands the Pandunus or Nicobar Breadfruit 

Pandanus is a densely arranged, wedge-shaped fruit that has an immensely hard, woody and fibrous body in which several narrow, edible seeds are embedded. Each section has a fleshy base that contains an aromatic pulp that, after cooking, is a staple food in Nicobar. An economically important plant in the islands, the stem branches of Pandanus are used in construction, the leaves used for weaving mats and the hard exterior of the fruit is used as a bathing brush.

Fauna of the Islands
This tropical rain forest despite its isolation from adjacent land masses is surprisingly enriched with many animals. I have already introduced you to the State Animal in my previous post – the Dugong Similarly we have the State Bird of the islands which is the Wood Pigeon,
the pigeon being endemic to these islands lives in the dense evergreen forests.

About 50 varieties of forest mammals are found to occur in A&N Islands, most of them are understood to be brought in from outside and are now considered endemic due to their prolonged insular adaptation. Apart from these there are some famous birds and species endemic to the islands alone like the below 

The Hornbill birds are found only in the Narcondam island, which is also famous for having the inactive volcano.

from online birds database

The Megapode bird or the mound bird is known for laying eggs in holes in the ground or in mounds of rotting vegetable matter and leaving them to be incubated by heat from the Sun or volcanic action. Mound birds are also called mound builders, incubator birds, or megapodes. 

The Robber Crab (Birgus Latro), also called the Coconut Crab, is the largest land-living arthropod in the world. They generally live on land, but at nights climb up the coconut trees and carve a hole into the tender coconuts to eat the soft kernel. In South Asia, the highest numbers of these huge crabs are found in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago. They can be spotted on the South Sentinel Island as well as on some islands in Nicobar. Apart from these there are wide variety of other crabs which are found in these islands. They are also one of the favorite delicacies the locals love. (i love eating crabs too <3, not this one for sure).

Also found in abundance specially in the Ross Islands are the Deer and Peacock 

 

The happy land of butterflies 
With about 225 species, the A&N Islands house some of the larger and most spectacular butterflies of the world. Ten species are endemic to these Islands. Mount Harriet National Park is one of the richest areas of butterfly and moth diversity on these Islands. Thousands of butterflies flock to the Andaman Island every year. I.e Andaman is a proud host to butterflies that migrate to the islands. Even postal stamps have been issued in honor of this phenomenon 

The Amazing Marine Life of Andamans
If Dugong was the only herbivore mammal under water that is found in the Andaman islands, there are many more amazing marine life that is still majorly unexplored.
Dermocheleys Coriacea, the largest sea turtles in the world nest in the Andaman islands. They are huge in size and thousands of them flock to the Andamans every year. Additionally, even the Olive Ridely turtles come to the Andamans and use it as their nesting ground.
In fact the Kalipur beach in Diglipur is the only place in the world that boasts of nesting by four types of sea turtles viz., Leatherback turtle, Olive Ridley, Green Turtles and HawksBill.

Quick info – if you ever take a ship to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (yes we do have ships that take 3 days from Chennai, Visakhapatnam and Kolkata to reach the islands), about an hour before you reach the harbour you would be lucky to find group of dolphins giving you company till the ship reaches the port. Below is one such capture by a APS director Rathnam. I can personally vouch cause i have seen them when my family used to travel by ships during summer vacations. 

With an abundance of sea creatures, the islands staple source of food is also the sea. From crabs, to shrimps and lobsters , there are over a hundred variety of fishes that are eaten by the locals. Some people are also known to have sea urchins and sea cucumbers which are now available only in the interior islands.

Some of the well known aquatic animals of Andamans are the Humphead Parrotfish, Whitebanded Shrimp, Peacock Mantis, Giant Moray , Manta Ray. 

Since the islands are surrounded by water from all around its obvious to have an amazing variety of shells and corals. Snorkeling and Scuba diving water activities are a great means to explore the corals.  
As always ending the post with some additional info. Check out the below video(highly insist) which was captured by my friend  Saketh and Sanjay  from our recent trip to Andamans . 


And this work that the crabs do, result in such patterns that one would find by the beach. It was amazing to see the crabs working. All thanks to technology and smart end phones 😛 

I realize my posts are turning out to be really lengthy 😦 but this is the most edited form that i could publish. Still had many more pics and content to write 🙂 Hope you guys are having fun, let me know.. i really wana know 🙂

Also i would be replying back to all the comments that i have not yet replied over this weekend. Since i do not schedule my posts i hardly get time after i am done with writing the post. Apologies 😦 

Happy blogging!! Live.Love.Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤ 

Disclaimer – the pics are taken from the flora and fauna databases and content of factual data from the and.nic.in islands administrative website. Also the images are clicked by my friend Saketh and Nelson (majority of them).

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY05: E For Experience Scuba Diving | My first

PC @monsieur.lopez

Disclaimer – Long Post 🙂

I remember it was the summer vacation i was in my first standard and my brother and all the other elder cousins were playing in the river which ran behind my uncle’s home back in Kollam, Kerala. I was the only girl in my paternal side then and i was insisting in going to the water as well. And since none of the cousins wanted to take my responsibility of taking care of me i was just watching them and crying non stop.
Finally my uncle agreed to take me to the water as well. I still remember this crystal clear (i have a sharp memory 🙂 ) my grandmother gave me a piece of advice, she said “When you go into the water remember and the water level reaches your chin, do not take a sudden breath or else you would always be scared of getting into water” . And i finally was in the river playing with my cousins . 

PC – dad 🙂

Post that whenever we used to go to the beach in Andamans’ i would not be scared to get into water, i would go right up till my chin while am standing straight in water (whatever the height that would be) and jump when the waves would hit me. 

Only regret I COULD NEVER MANAGE TO LEARN SWIMMING 😦  I know i know me being from the islands its shameful and embarrassing to not know swimming but the thing was there never was a swimming pool kind of facility for my parents to send me for classes. If i had to learn swimming it would be going to the beach and my dad teaching me which was not really practical. I was too busy enjoying my dance classes and taking part in other literary competitions. Beaches only meant picnics, getting into water to take bath and just play even though i would always regret not knowing how to swim specially when i saw my other friends getting into the sea and swimming or even the swimming pool for a matter. My job would be to sit by the side and hand them food and drinks when needed.

Years went by , I’ll be 30 this July and i hate to say this but i don’t know swimming even now 😦 (hoping to learn this summer..which is already here). But one thing was always on my bucket list SCUBA DIVING. It became even more an adventure that i wanted to fulfill anyhow when i had learnt you don’t really need to know swimming to do scuba diving(thanks to Zoya Akhtar and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara). There always is a way if you really want to do something in life 😛

Scuba diving became a popular water sport in the last few years in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and whenever i went home for a vacation it would be just a week or two and mostly i would be home and catching up with family friends and relatives. There was no possibility of me going to the beach and take up diving.  

I had not given up hope and had to do scuba diving before my 30th birthday and finally it happened, yes my first ever scuba diving experience and i don’t have words to describe how beautiful that feeling is. It was exactly the #ZindagiNaMilegiDobara moment when Hrithik Roshan takes his first dive and the poem in the background, it was exactly that. Click here to watch 

And it happened

On 12th Feb 2017 i did my first scuba diving. All thanks to my friends who joined me in a week long vacation to Andamans and i decided to join them as well as a tourist and see more of my beautiful hometown. We were doing the scuba diving through the BAREFOOTSCUBA. Barefoot Scuba is the first and only PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Resort in the Andaman Islands established in 2004 I knew them personally since it was part of the Barefoot Resorts whose Operational Manager is my brother and also the diving instructors were known to me. My dive instructor was Bunty bhaiya (the one in the first pic and in the video you cant watch below). Other than these also there are Scuba Dive Operators like the Dive India, Andaman Bubbles Scuba Diving .

The Training and the Dive

The 45 minute scuba diving session included 15 minutes of training and then 30 minutes of dive of up to 13-14 meters underwater. For a non swimmer like me 14 meters is a big deal 🙂 We chose the North Bay islands for scuba diving unlike the Havelock where generally tourists do the scuba diving. One because we knew them personally and second the rush is less in North Bay compared to Havelock, so the divers too are not in a hurry. 

Thats after the training all set to go for the dive

To start with the training we were told all the hand gestures that we would be using underwater like Ok, not okay , up, down, nose block, ear pain, water getting into the mouth etc. Then you are made to practice to breathe through your mouth wearing the scuba gears. Trust me this is the most difficult part, i had a tough time to get used to breathing through the mouth.

Then the moment arrived, once the trainers checked for all the precautions and revised us through the hand gestures they pulled us along with them inside water. Ideally its one instructor with two people but i got to go alone with Bunty bhaiya, perks of being an islander. I didn’t even realize and i was already underwater. It was beautiful, calm and quiet, it was a different world all together. The only sound i could hear was my heart beat and the sound of me breathing in and out.

PC – Bunty bhaiya’s friend while we were diving

I saw some small fishes of different colors, corals, also managed to see a sea cucumber and a sea urchin (which was not new to me, had seen them before also) . It was so beautiful that i stopped breathing in between and suddenly my ears started paining. I think i came up above water twice in the 30 minute dive. I did want to see the Nemo but i couldn’t but i have heard people telling they saw the Nemo, below is one such pic my friend Saketh clicked.

Time flies underwater, before i could get the whole hang of it thirty minutes was up and time for me to say bye to the amazing marine life. I feel so proud to be from Andaman not that i was not before but after the dive i get the whole idea of why people enjoy diving so much and travel all the way to these islands for diving and snorkeling.

As always, leaving you all with few more pics clicked by Saketh : 

 Here is my scuba diving video to give you a sneak peek of what the underwater life looks like. The BarefootScuba makes sure your memories are captured forever. Also they give us a certificate once we finish our dive which is pretty good 

Watch till the end to see the fishes 🙂 (or skip to 1:06)

I am determined to go for even more scuba diving sessions once i learn swimming so that i can become better than my first one in terms of breathing and not letting the claustrophobia hit me which has always stopped me from learning swimming.

Andaman as a Scuba diving destination

The azure waters surrounding the Andaman Islands make it a treasure trove to dive into and snorkel around.

Pristine dive spots and enchanting fish life have ensured that the Andamans are now considered as a diving hot spot and divers from all around the world make their way to these islands simply to scuba dive. Irrespective of whether you can swim or not – as long as you are at least 8 years old, you too can try your hand at diving and get addicted for life!

One can also take up advanced level certification and become a certified diver. Many folks from all over the world actually come to Andaman to take up the diving certifications. 

You can also check out some instagrammers who are based in Andamans and their profiles are a treat to watch. @tara.oceanista and @nelson_raju

Have you done scuba diving? Where and how was your experience? Is it on your bucket list, if yes then some serious advice – PLEASE DO IT.  Don’t think about it even for a second, the moment you get a chance just do it. Let me know if you liked this post (i know this was a long long one).

Happy blogging!!! Live.Love.Laugh ❤ ❤ ❤

 

#ATOZCHALLENGE DAY04: D FOR DUGONG

Have you ever heard of this word Dugong? Any guesses you want to make before you start reading… let me tell you, this is definitely not a place in Andaman(if that helps) . …….. Alright lets not bother you too much and reveal the mystery. Dugong is a medium sized marine animal which is also called the Sea Cow or Sea Pig which happens to be the State Animal of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. 

The word “dugong” derives from the Tagalog term dugong which was in turn adopted from the Malay duyung, both meaning “lady of the sea”. 

  • The Dugong is the only strictly marine herbivorous mammal
    It mainly survives on sea grass and other aquatic vegetation
  • Dugong is distributed in shallow tropical waters in Indo-Pacific Region.
  • The animal is about three-metre length and weighs about 400 kg.
    The dugong has a fusiform body with no dorsal fin or hind limbs. The forelimbs or flippers are paddle-like.
  • The dugong is easily distinguished from the manatees by its fluked, dolphin-like tail, but also possesses a unique skull and teeth. Its snout is sharply downturned, an adaptation for feeding in benthic seagrass communities. The molar teeth are simple and peg-like
  • The dugong is hunted for its meat and oil.
  • The IUCN lists the dugong as a species vulnerable to extinction, while the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species limits or bans the trade of derived products
  • It has a long lifespan of 70 years or more, and slow rate of reproduction, one of the major reasons for dugongs more vulnerable to extinction
  • In India Dugong is reported from Gulf of Kutch, Gulf of Mannar, Palk Bay and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Within A&N Islands Dugong has been reported from Ritchie”s Archipelago, North Reef, Little Andaman and parts of Nicobars

    PC – Nelson Raju

Personally I have never seen one in real back home except for the pictures and its model in the museum.

There you go, a new information (if you didn’t know about it earlier) to be added as part of #atozchallenge 🙂 . What is your State/Country animal?  Ever heard about Dugong before, let me know in the comments if your place also has some endangered species like these.

Happy Blogging !!! Live.Love.Laugh !!!