good news story on the BBC about Vaan Island [R as tropical paradise?] off the coast of Tamil Nadu where India looks across the water at Ceylon. It's good news rather than good news because it is making a small-small step towards saving a wonderful (and valuable) marine ecosystem from obliteration but the intervention does not seem to scale up. In 1972 dry Vaan was 27 hectares in size, in 2016 it was reduced to only 4 ha. which is half the size of our 19 sheep farmlet. In 1986 the Indian government created the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve, which included 21 of these barrier islands. Since then, two of these tear-drops have been eroded to buggery and Vaan will probably join them in oblivion by 2022. A single big storm may be enough. The problem is, of course, erosion: the islands are basically sand-spits with a top-knot of vegetation covered in a dusting of guano. Where am dat place? Here:
For Vaan and the other sandy islands of the Gulf of Mannar, the erosion is not so much from the winds of the tropical storms that beat in from the Indian Ocean but the relentless suck and heave of the waves. The sea-bed is covered in meadows of sea-grasses. The roots of these monocot plants interlock to hold the sea-bed surface together. But when an enormous beam trawler passes by, scarfing up the shrimps and bottom feeders, the sea-grass meadows take a pounding and the next storm scours off what's left. That exposes the beach directly to the waves. This cycle will repeat itself until there is no island left. It would seem sensible to create a fishing-free zone to allow the meadows and their attendant animal life to recover. But 100,000+ people depend on the fishing for their diminishing livelihood, so it would take a brave politician to implement the restriction of fishing by all those voters.
original pub]. With great care they dug up three species of seagrasses, Cymodocea serrulata, Thallasia hemprichii, and Syringodium isoetifolium, from one area and transplanted them to places which were going a little bald. They used 1m x 1m plastic squares [above L] covered with a loose network of jute strings as anchors to support the transplanted grasses until their roots 'took'. At best speed with perfect weather, a pair of scuba-planters were able implant 80 plastic quadrats a day. I'm assuming that the quadrats are not anchored shoulder-to-shoulder but in some sort of checker-board - allowing for the established transplants to do some in-filling. Let us generously suppose that the day's work blocks out 800 sq.m. of regenerating meadow. But Mathews & Co. have identified 45 sq.km = 45 million sq.m. of degraded sea-grass meadow in the bay. You can do the math: it will take somewhere North of 150 years to remedy the damage using this method, even working under optimal conditions 7 days a week, 50 weeks a year. A day's work under-water will be swept to oblivion by a single pass of a trawler. It doesn't scale up. lads. Vaan is doomed. Sorry.