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Posted at: Mar 11, 2018, 2:16 AM; last updated: Mar 11, 2018, 2:16 AM (IST)

Take a walk in the reef

As the tide ebbs, the seabed at the Marine National Park and Sanctuary in Gujarat lays bare the fascinating underwater world

Khursheed Dinshaw

Look what I found?” asked Mustak Mepani, who has been organising marine and birding trips in Gujarat for the past 15 years. The Shinde sisters eagerly looked at the Pufferfish that Mustak had scooped up gently from the seabed. “I have read that when this fish feels that it is in danger, it puffs up,” said the younger sister to Mustak, who smiled in agreement. “Let’s find some corals!” exclaimed the elder sister and both happily continued their walk at Poshitra, which is part of the Marine National Park and Sanctuary in Gujarat.

At India’s first marine national park, you don’t need to snorkel or scuba dive to see marine life. Once the tide ebbs, you walk on the seabed to discover its beauty. The recommended time to walk in the reef is when the tide ebbs. Every day this time differs, depending on the tide timing. The best time to visit is during the minus tide, also known as spring tide because that is when the tide ebbs the furthest. This tide occurs on a few days, is mostly in summers. Wearing hats or caps and old sneakers is advised because before entering the reef at Poshitra, one has to walk on rocks covered with barnacles.

Poshitra is one of the most pristine and peaceful locations in the Marine National Park. Its sunrise is spectacular and the sun changes colour from orange to yellow within seconds. Here, one can get to see a mindboggling variety of corals such as brain corals, plate corals, moon corals, star corals, which are named so since they resemble a brain, plate, star and moon, Goniopora and Porites. Some of the marine creatures that can be seen include sea slugs, sea cucumbers, crabs, fishes and barnacles.

Sights and sounds

The sanctuary is not just limited to its marine life. Depending on the season, the park and sanctuary becomes home to reef herons, egrets, curlews and crab-plovers. In the fields just before Poshitra, you can see flocks of demoiselle cranes. The islands in this area, particularly the Ashaba Island, which is sandy on one side and rocky on the other with a solitary tree has made it to quite a few postcards around the world. One can spend the rest of the day looking for shells or oyster panes which glisten in the sun, visit the temple and dargah or simply take in the azure hues of the sea, meditate or interact with the locals.

Camping under the stars

One can camp overnight in tents just outside the national park in a farm. Booking for this needs to be done in advance. At night, the view is mesmerising with fishing boats that appear as silhouettes. These can be spotted in the horizon with their blinking lights peeping from behind the islands, the clear dark sky, with its stunning display of stars, the wonderful sound of waves lapping against the shore and an occasional call of a night heron flying past. Homecooked meals at the farm may be rustic but in the tranquil setting of Poshitra are tastier than a Michelin-starred meal.  


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