Gulf of Mannar and Palk Strait

The Gulf of Mannar is a shallow bay, part of the Laccadive Sea in the Indian Ocean. A chain of low islands and reefs known as Adam’s Bridge, also called Ramsethu, which includes Mannar Island, separates the Gulf of Mannar from Palk Strait, which lies to the north between India and Sri Lanka.

  • The Thamirabarani River of south India and the Aruvi Aru of Sri Lanka drain into the Gulf of Mannar.
  • The gulf of Mannar is home to thousands of species of flora and fauna and is known as one of the richest coastal regions in India. The corals, sharks, dugongs, dolphins and sea cucumber.
  • The Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park was declared in 1986. The national park and its 10km buffer zone were declared Biosphere Reserve in 1989. The Gulf of Mannar is famous for its pearl banks of Pinctada radiata and Pinctada fucata for at least two thousand years.

Palk Strait

Palk Strait connects the Bay of Bengal in the northeast with the Palk Bay anc connects the Palk bay to Gulf of Mannar in the southwest. It is 53-80 kilometers wide, studded with a chain of low islands and reef shoals that are collectively called Adam’s Bridge. This chain extends between Dhanushkodi on Pamban (Rameswaram) Island in Tamil Nadu and Mannar Island in Sri Lanka.

The shallow waters and reefs of the strait make it difficult for large ships to pass through, although fishing boats and small craft carrying coastal trade have navigated the strait for centuries. Large ships must travel around Sri Lanka. Construction of a shipping canal through the strait was first proposed to the British government of India in 1860, and a number of commissions have studied the proposal up to the present day. It is curently in news because of the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project.

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