TAG: GS 3: ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT
THE CONTEXT: Throughout 2023, an impressive team of 180 birdwatchers from across India meticulously documented rare ‘pelagic’ birds, predominantly found in open ocean habitats, off the coast of Karnataka.
- The noteworthy sightings included various species like Sooty Shearwater, Brown Skua, Brown Booby, Streaked Shearwater, Masked Booby, Pomarine Skua, Arctic skua, Long-tailed skua, Swinhoes storm-petrel, Wilson’s storm-petrel, Flesh-footed shearwater, Persian shearwater, greater crested tern, lesser crested tern, common tern, and Bridled tern.
- Individuals organized expeditions leading to exceptional sightings, including the first-ever Sooty Shearwater sighting in Karnataka, a rarity usually found in the United States, Australia, and Africa.
- Additionally, the sighting of a Brown Skua, noted for its unusually large size, marked another remarkable observation and the first of its kind in Karnataka.
Insights into Pelagic Bird Populations:
- The birdwatchers’ network noted a decline in the density of pelagic birds compared to the previous year.
- This decline is indicative of reduced fish stocks near the coast, impacting the availability of food for these oceanic birds.
- Observations suggested that reasons behind this decline could be attributed to factors such as rainfall over the sea, leading to fish moving deeper into the waters.
Environmental Initiatives and Impact on Bird Habitats:
- Efforts toward creating a ‘green port’ at New Mangalore Port (NMP) resulted in a substantial increase in green cover, fostering the return of various bird species.
- The strategic planting of specific tree species at the port facilitated the resurgence of birdlife, creating conducive habitats.
- Such initiatives have led to the return of bird varieties that had been absent for over three decades, emphasizing the importance of suitable habitats and sustenance for avian populations.
Expanded Bird Habitats and Human Engagement:
- The augmentation of green spaces and conscious efforts by residents, such as setting up bird feeders, water pots, and birdbaths, contributed to the increased presence of birds in residential areas.
- The attraction of diverse bird species to these habitats highlights the role of community engagement in fostering biodiversity.
Bird Diversity Around Kaiga Nuclear Power Generating Station:
- The Kaiga Nuclear Power Generating Station in Uttara Kannada district has become a focal point for birdwatchers due to its rich avian diversity.
- Annual bird-watching marathons organized by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) have identified over 213 bird species in the vicinity, indicating the area’s suitability for avian habitation.
Environmental Sustainability Indicated by Bird Population:
- The thriving avian population around the Kaiga Nuclear Power Generating Station serves as an indicator of the area’s safety and suitability for various life forms, validating the region’s ecological sustainability.
- The meticulous documentation of rare pelagic birds, along with the resurgence of avian populations in diverse habitats across Karnataka, reflects the significance of environmental initiatives, habitat conservation, and community engagement in fostering biodiversity.
- The birdwatchers’ efforts not only highlight rare bird sightings but also underline the broader ecological implications of declining fish stocks impacting pelagic bird densities.
- It emphasized the intricate interplay between marine ecosystems and avian populations.