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Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park

Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, which is situated 29 km away from Port Blair, is a national park in Wandoor on the Andaman Islands. The total area of the park is 28.5 sq. km and it is made up of 15 islands. The park is an important tourist location in Port Blair, as it attracts the visitors with its diverse ecosystem and water sports opportunities.

Mahatma Gandhi Park

History of Mahatma Gandhi Park

Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park was created under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 with an aim of protecting marine life in the islands such as corals and nesting sea turtles. The park, which is now under the protection of the Chief Wildlife Warden of the forest department of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, was created on 24 May 1983. Even though the islands that surround the park are uninhabited land according to the 1981 census, the eight adjacent villages have a population of 3000 living.

Ecosystems at the Mahatma Gandhi Park

The type and composition of vegetation at Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park varies from island to island. However, the tourist islands here have more anthropocentric change and others do not. Fringing reefs cover most of the coral reefs in the park. Some much isolated islands are protected from the effects of weather in the Bay of Bengal.

Attractions at the Park

  • Belle: Patchy Coral Reef
  • Boat: Patchy Coral Reef
  • Alexandra: Reef wall, Sea fan Jungle
  • Chester: Large coral rock, sea fans
  • Hobday: Underwater cave, saltwater crocodile habitat, giant grouper
  • Grub: Excellent coral Reef, giant, calm, feather stars
  • Malaya: Patchy coral reefs
  • Pluto: Patchy coral reefs
  • Jolly Buoy: Good diversity of corals and reef wall, Large shoals of fishes
  • Redskin: Reef wall, saltwater crocodile habitat, high diversity of corals
  • Rifleman: Strong current, sea fans
  • Twins: Turtle nesting beach, morary ells, sharks, manta rays
  • Tarmugli: Turtle nesting beach, crystal clear, saltwater crocodile habitat
  • Snob: Patchy coral reef, sea grass beds
  • Rutland
The area of mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park is dotted with islands, most of which are within the visual distance from each other and are covered with mangroves or tropical forest. Exposed portions of the lands are occupied by beaches and rocks faces. The only two islands open to the tourists, Jolly Buoy and Redskin are shallow.

Marine Fauna
Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park presents you a fascinating world of tropical forest and coral reefs and offers excellent recreational facilities in the sandy beaches. Varied marine animals that range from the large see mammals like dolphin to the smallest zoo planktons.

The fringing type of coral reeds that grow around the islands look like a forest in the sea. More than fifty types of coral found here is not only a tourist attraction, but also a study material for scientists and researchers. Acropora, Pacillopora, Montipora, Fungia, Leptoseris, Forties, gorgonians and tubipora are the important corals of the area.

The park homes hundreds of colourful verities of coral reef fishes such as clown fish sergeon fishes, butterfly fishes, angel fishes, bat fishes, parrot fishes, hammer headed shark, manta-ray and blue finack.

You can explore mainly four species of marine turtles Green Sea, hawaks Bill, Leather back and Olive Ridlay in the park, especially in the beaches of the Twin Island and Rutland Island. Salt water crocodile is another common reptile here, as the creeks inside the park is ideal for them. It also homes other important reptiles such as Lizard, Water Monitor, sea snakes like Banded Sea Snake.

Other most commonly seen marine animals in the park are start fishes, sea liyy, feather star, giant clam shell, trochus, crowries, sea cucumber, sea anemons and sponges.

Land Fauna
The land mammals include Andaman Wild Pig, Civet, Spotted Deer, Fruit Bat etc. You can also seeMahatma Gandhi Marine National Park in Port Blair different species of birds like Andaman Teal, White Belied Sea Eagle, Whistling Twal, Andaman Seerpeant Eagle, Terns, King Fishers, Waders, Swifts, Reef Herons, Lorokeet, Parakeet, Doves etc. It also homes some types of reptiles such as karit, King Cobra, Cobra and Vinake Snake.

Flora of the Park
The main plant species of the area are Andaman Padauk, Dipterocarpous Spp, Andaman Bullet wood, Silk Cotton Tree, Terminalia Spp, Pandanas, Thespesia, Canes, Cycas bamboos, ferns and Orchids. The mangrove forest on the islands that include variety of mangrove species like Auicennia, Rhizophora and Herittiera offers a splendid view.

Transportation to the Park
You can reach to Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park from Port Blair by road. There are regular state transport and private buses from Port Blair to Wandoor, headquarter of the park. The tourism department of Andaman and Nicobar islands also provide transport facilities to the park. You can also depend on the tours from Port Blair to the park conducted by private travel agencies.

The number of tourism trips in Red Skin and Jolly Buoy beach from the Wandoor jetty is restricted to five in all days, except Monday, in order to avoid congestion and consequent damage to marine life. However, it may vary according to the weather condition and the availability of boats. The visitors should get the boat tickets with time stamp of the trip. The timing of the trips is in each half an hour in between 8.30 A.M and 10.30 A.M.

Wandoor has a forest rest house that has four suits. However, staying in Port Blair is more advisable, as there are many lodging options in the city.

Procedures to obtain permit to visit Red Skin and Jolly Buoy Island
As uncontrolled visitors to these islands may cause damage to the marine life here, the Forest Department follows a system with effect of 2011 November 11. The entry permits are issued one day in advance subjected to terms and conditions, if you produce the application. A modal copy of application form will be displayed in in counter of information of tourists. It also displays the list of authorized boat operators and permitted passenger capacity of boats. These operators issue the tickets on production of entry permit.

Enjoying the amazing coral reefs through a glass bottomed boat or snorkeling to explore the beauty of marine life in Jolly Buoy and Redskin Islands of Mahatma Gandhi marine National Park will be an unforgettable experience in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

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