To mark the celebration of the International Biodiversity Day, the ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) has embarked on a study to evaluate marine fish biodiversity along Kerala coast.

A press release issued here said that a team of 55 experts at the Marine Biodiversity and Environment Management Division (MBEMD) of the institute conducted a one-day rapid marine biodiversity assessment survey to understand the marine life in the region. They documented the diversity of marine species across 26 major fishery harbours, spanning from Kasaragod in the north to Vizhinjam in the south. A total of an impressive 468 species were recorded in the survey, underscoring the rich diversity of Kerala’s marine ecosystem.

The survey, a first of its kind in scale and scope, covering all the major landing centres and harbours in a single day simultaneously, focused on the peak landing hours from 5 am to 12 pm, collecting a detailed overview of the marine life brought in by various fishing gears, including trawlers, gillnetters, and ring seiners.

Popular species like mackerel, sardine, anchovies, lizard fishes, and penaeid shrimps, alongside squids and cuttlefishes, were also found among the most abundant species. The Carangidae family, known for its diverse and commercially important fish like jacks and trevallies, emerged as the most diverse group, accounting for 8 per cent of the total catch.

The survey also unveiled intriguing deep-sea dwellers like the oil shark (Neohariota pinnata), bramble shark (Echinorhinus brucus), lantern fishes, and snake mackerels, adding a layer of mystery to Kerala’s underwater world. Remarkably, seven species previously unrecorded along this coast were identified during this survey, emphasizing the need for continuous monitoring and research.

A Gopalakrishnan, Director of CMFRI said: “Understanding the biodiversity of our marine ecosystems is essential for developing effective conservation strategies. The data gathered will be invaluable in formulating effective strategies to protect and conserve our marine resources for future generations.”

This rapid assessment survey is a landmark achievement in marine biodiversity research in Kerala. It provides crucial baseline data for understanding the distribution and abundance of marine species, aiding in sustainable fisheries management and conservation efforts, he said.