Education & Outreach
The marine coastal environments in India are in a state of decline. Some of the major influences for which include improper land use, overexploitation of natural resources (fish, sand, etc.), polluting effluents from industry, plastic litter and loss of marine life. What we are seeing today is an emptier ocean, a dirtier coast line and a community highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to increased coastal erosion.
ReefWatch is working with the Karnataka Forest department, a number of organizations and local veterinarians to increase awareness about the need for Marine conservation and sustainable practices.
Our teams regularly conduct marine megafauna first aid and rehabilitation workshops for veterinarians and Karnataka Forest Department Staff from Coastal Districts of Karnataka. This enables them to efficiently respond to cases of strandings reported by our volunteer network. The veterinarians are educated on methods previously used by ReefWatch to successfully rehabilitate turtles and treat stranded marine megafauna species such as Dolphins and Whales.
We work closely with the Karnataka Forest Department and Coast guards to deal with strandings. ReefWatch works with local organisations to conduct beach cleans and meetings with stakeholders to talk to locals about environmentally friendly and sustainable practices that can help protect coastlines.
In the past, we have had interns help document the waste collected. Interns and volunteers often join us in our brand assessment of plastics collected and analysis of waste based on materials and quantity. They have also conducted surveys to assess social situations of the local communities to help ReefWatch identify what the community needs. We also work with local fishing communities to provide them with alternate, sustainable methods of fishing and mussel farming.
We are working with schools in Kundapur to raise awareness about the need for conservation in young minds. The activities conducted by ReefWatch vary by age groups and include teaching children about marine ecosystems, food webs, species at risk and the importance of sustainability.
WOMEN'S LIVELIHOOD DEVELOPMENT
The aim of the project is two-fold; Improve Marine ecosystems through removal of ocean waste and improve lives of women who belong to low single income families along the coast.
Ocean waste is a major issue plaguing the oceans at the moment. A large component of the waste is plastics, they are an extremely hazardous and durable material. ReefWatch is working on improving the health of marine coastal environments through beach cleans and by indirectly employing women to collect trash from the coasts of Karnataka. The waste will be bought from them, segregated, processed and upcycled/recycled.
Women along the coast belong to single income families and rely on fisheries for their income. The collapse of fisheries has greatly reduced their income pushing many of these families below the poverty line. This greatly reduces their access to healthcare, education and generally better living conditions. The Livelihoods project aims to employ these women and supplement their family’s income to help them access better living.
At ReefWatch we believe in the importance of having scientific data to back up our active conservation initiatives.
Our Karnataka team is working on gathering scientific data on Marine strandings and conducting a general analysis of the health of local ecosystems.
Beach surveys are done to analyse sand samples for microplastics and nutrient values. This is being done to set up an accessible database that can be used as a reference point to monitor and compare the health of these beaches in the future. The physical and chemical composition of these will vary based on human activity such as release of effluence, construction and accidents at sea resulting in oil spills.
Mangrove habitats are an especially important and sensitive ecosystem. They are nurseries for many species of fish and other bio-indicators. These intertidal habitats are also known to protect coastlines by reducing sand erosion and regulating temperatures. ReefWatch conducts surveys to check for biodiversity and nutrient values to monitor the health of our precious mangrove habitats along Karnataka’s coastline.