Marine National Park, Gulf of Kachchh situated on the southern shore of Gulf of Kachchh in Jamnagar District. It is the first Marine National Park in the country declared in the year 1980. However, the first record of scientific study of marine biodiversity of this Gulf region dates back to 1909. The Maharaja SayajiraoGaekwad of erstwhile Baroda State commissioned Mr. James Hornell, a well-known Marine Biologist from Sri Lanka to study marine life of Okhamandal coast. It was astonishing for Mr. Hornell and in his words "I had never seen before such a rich marine biota in so confined a place". Subsequent research studies revealed many obscure facets of this rich marine biodiversity and its ecology. A well-organized fishery of pearl oysters and windowpane oysters was carried out by the Princely Navanagar State in this region. The ecological significance of this coastal ecosystem was discussed in the seminar for conservation of forests and wild animals held at SasanGir in 1980. The seminar was chaired by Hon'ble Prime Minister of India, Smt. Indira Gandhi. It was decided in the seminar to protect and develop marine biodiversity in this area and with this background, Government of Gujarat declared 457.92 sq.km area as Marine Sanctuary vide notification No. AKH-140.8o-WlP-10. 19,109-107483-P2 dated 12-8-1980 and AKH-139(1)182- WLP-108-126827-V2 dated 20-7-1982. It was a historical step towards conservation of marine biodiversity and resources in the country as with this, India's first Marine Protected Area came into existence. Later, an additional of 162.89 sq .km area was declared as Marine National Park vide notification No. AKH-138(2)-182-WlP-108-126827-V2 dated 20-7-1982. At present, the total area under Jamnagar Circle is 944.0 sq.km. which include MNP & S, Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary, Gaga Wildlife Sanctuary, Reserve Forests, Protected Forests and Section - 4 area
The Marine National Park and Sanctuary (MNP & S) is situated along the southern coast of Gulf of Kachchh in DevbhumiDwarak, Jamnagar and Morbi districts between 20° 15' N to 23° 40' N latitudes and 68°20' to 70°40' E longitudes. There are 42 islands, encompasses a variety of habitats viz., coral reefs, mangrove forests, sandy beaches, mudflats, creeks, rocky shore, seagrass beds, wide intertidal region etc. The MNP also known for its species diversity with 49 species of hard corals, 23 species of soft corals, 70 species of sponges, more than 200 species of fishes, 27 species of prawns, 30 species of crabs, 199 species of mollusk, 16 species of echinoderms, 172 species of birds, 3 species of sea mammals, 6 species of mangroves, 3 species of sea turtle, 108 species of brown, green and red algae, etc. These habitats caters to the needs of thousands of flora and fauna and provides them suitable shelter. As per the International Union Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Marine National Park and Sanctuary is categorized under Category I of Marine Protected Areas with 130 MPAs functioning in the country of which most are located in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and on the eastern coast of the mainland of the country.
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