Seagrass resource assessment in the Mandapam coast of the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve, India

Aerial extent and distribution pattern of seagrass meadows in the Mandapam group of islands viz. Pamban area of Rameshwaram, Krusadai, Pullivasal and Pumarichan Island of the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve were studied. Visual interpretation and digital analysis of satellite data viz. IRS 1D LISS III (2000 and 2002) and IRS P6 LISS III (2004) showed the presence of extensive seagrass beds in these areas. Present study has recorded 3289.14 ha of reef area, 794.45 ha of reef vegetation, 726.15 ha of dense and 601.00 ha of sparse seagrass beds in this part of the Gulf during the year 2004. Further, spread and changes in seagrass cover in this region have been classified and loss has been estimated. In addition, drastic reduction in the seagrass resources of the Gulf of Mannar in certain places was identified and management plans to conserve this resource have been suggested.