Discovering Marine Life at Girgaum Chowpatty, Mumbai

Mumbai’s beaches. The first word that comes to mind when we think of them, sadly, is ‘filth’. Over the years, we have so got used to seeing our beaches in a mess, that we rarely give a thought to the marine life teeming there. Our eyes were opened to the incredible marine bio-diversity of Girgaum Chowpatty, (more popularly called Chowpatty Beach), when we recently went on a walk with Marine Life of Mumbai and INatureWatch Foundation. Over the last few weeks, I have racked my mind about what to write about our experience, but I have finally decided to cut out the words, and show you instead, through my photographs, the incredible life that manages to survive despite all odds….



Shells are everywhere, which is not surprising. But what is surprising is the fact that each of them, small and big, have creatures within them – the molluscs whose natural homes these are, as well as hermit crabs, which occupy them once they are abandoned. 


Hermit crab in spiral shell

a different type of shell, with the mollusc inside

Hermit crab which has grown too big for its adopted shell

Hermit Crab


Hermit Crab
And here is a video... of a hermit crab moving with its shell...



Then, there are the crabs… of all sizes and colours… this one is a Blood Spotted Swimming Crab

Blood Spotted Swimming Crab. Notice the three red spots? 


And Sea Snails

Sea Snail


But the most fascinating among all the creatures that we saw, were the Sea Anemones….

Sea Anemone

Sea Anemone  This one seems to be partly closed, and you can see the bulk of it under water



They seemed to be all over, hidden in the sand, yet in plain view, uncovered by the low tide…

Sea Anemone


Another sea anemone where you can see the base underwater


It seemed such a wonder that we had never seen them before!

Yet another sea anemone


On bits of rock, or pieces of wood, we saw these….

Egg capsules


They are egg capsules of molluscs, from which they emerge with their shells….

Egg capsules on a piece of wood


We also saw Decorator Worms, which adhere to broken shells and other debris from the sea, and use them as a natural covering or protection, which also helps them camouflage with their surroundings.

Can you spot the Decorator Worms in this pic? 


It was most exciting to spot a sea-fan, a type of coral, which, we were told, would most probably have been caught in a fishing net and discarded. Never having imagined its existence, let alone in our very own city, you can imagine how excited we were!

Sea Fan


A flock of geese flew over, reminding us that there was avian life around too. In the horizon were small rocky outcrops, isolated enough for marine life to thrive. Standing there, our feet washed by the waters of the Arabian Sea, we wondered how long this marine life would thrive, with all the ‘development’ planned in the coming years.



But most poignant was this sight… of an abandoned Ganesha idol on the shore….



Sometime next month, when the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated, many more such idols will find their way to the sea, to meet just such a fate, endangering all the marine life here in the process. I wish we could realise that this is no way to celebrate our gods, our city, or indeed our culture. How much better it would be, if we could celebrate by recognising the presence of the divine all around us, including in these creatures, which we threaten by our actions, and our indifference, every single day.



Meanwhile, I can only ask you, the next time you visit one of the beaches in this island city of ours, to keep your eyes open for all the life that lives and breathes, just beneath our feet!

Bubbles... signs of life


A very special thanks to Marine Life of Mumbai and INatureWatch Foundation, for their impressive work, in making us aware of the marine life teeming in our concrete city.

To see more images from the walk, click here


Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post. I participated in the walk as a member of the general public, and paid the full fee for the same. 

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