World Oceans Day - Nayantara Jain
Executive Director - https://reefwatchindia.org/
The ocean covers over 70% of the earth and produces 50% of the planet’s oxygen. It supports humanity’s sustenance and biodiversity as the main source of protein. The ocean is key to our economy with millions of people employed in ocean-based industries.
With these key factors in mind, the ocean needs help.
50% of coral reefs stand destroyed and 90% of big fish populations depleted, we are doing more damage than we can ever imagine.
This year’s theme for World Oceans Day is “The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods” and the challenge of the decade is to “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources” by 2030.
It is pleasantly surprising to discover the many organizations and individuals who are actively fighting for ocean conservation and preservation of marine life. And these do not just begin and end with beach cleanups and photo-op sponsors. It is founded by Mitali Dutt Kakar and Prahlad Kakar and their whole team is dedicated to protecting the ocean and the life within.
Reef Watch’s strategy for conserving our marine spaces is to first know and understand the ocean, then use the knowledge to inform sustainable management through restoration rehabilitation, educate and raise awareness about the ocean’s beauty, diversity, and essential ecosystem services ocean provides us with.
Nayantara Jain is the Executive Director at ReefWatch and is a marine biologist, conservationist and mermaid!
Nayantara journey began in the Andamans, where she felt her life purpose take form. Her love for water and beaches was always prevalent having travelled as a daughter of an IAS officer. Jain sustained herself for a film marketing job and then began her journey when she became a DIVEMASTER and so began her mermaid life.
As she completed her Dive Instructor course, Jain recalls how the depletion of coral reefs and marine life was evident. “When you dive the same reefs for two-three years and you really start to see how things are changing—when you see how the reefs are dying, how certain fish you used to see aren't being seen anymore—it became clear to me that I wanted to do something more involved in conservation and I was no longer happy to just teach people how to dive and have that kind of superficial relationship with the ocean,” Jain explains her foray into conservation.
Reef Watch had already been set up by Lacadives founders Prahlad and Mitali Kakkar in 1993 when they discovered the rich heritage of reefs that India had around Lakshadweep and the Andaman Islands. El Niño in 1998 had resulted in the worst coral bleaching in recorded history. Repeated warm currents continue to decimate coral reefs, where you lose a significant part of the reef permanently that does not recover. Jain considered setting up her own conservation unit but found that the Kakkars were more than happy to let her step into Reef Watch and spearhead the NGO with her new vision.
Nayantara talks about the initiatives undertaken by Reef Watch Marine Conservation India and the coral reef restoration where they study different ways to regrow and repair the damaged reef areas and stranded megafauna such as sea turtles, dolphins, and whales.
Speaking of the effects of lockdown on our water bodies, Jain pushes to bank on the opportunity we have with reduced tourism and waste disposal at this time. But urges that “We are at a tipping point. At a precipice. Although we are killing sharks at an astounding rate and the water temperature is rising with the coral reefs facing the brunt of it, we are still in a situation where these animals are not extinct." (Sic Indulge Express)
There is a silver lining that Jain sees with young children concerned about the environment. She says that the rising aspirations of “wanting to be marine biologists or wanting to come and volunteer with the organisation or know how they can organise a beach clean-up in their city. Indians are coming in to learn how to dive and surf and just interact with the ocean more. This is really the time for us to act. If we as a society realise the importance of a healthy ocean and come together we can bring about a change.” (Sic Daily Pioneer)
Excerpts from :
Reef Watch India