If it was Andamans in 2015, it was the Minicoy Island in the Lakshadeep Archipelago in February 2016; so once again I am aboard the BNHS camp and on-baoard the MV Arabian Sea for the 21 hour 398 Kms rocking journey southwest of Willingdon Island, Cochin and across the 9 degree channel to explore the beautiful tiny coral Island that is the farthest corner south west of India.
We are a small group - just 8 of us including Prachi Galange the tour leader from BNHS; as we meet and introduce ourselves at the Willingdon Jetty, the excitement is palpable. Exploring the ship and interacting with the hospitable crew is in itself a good introduction to life on the high seas.
As the sea is turbulunt, we are informed that mid-sea we will need to jump off our big ship into smaller boats that will arrive for us shortly. After a long wait where our ship crew have very kindly turned off the air-conditioning (LOL), our boat arrives and we are expected to take an accurate leap across the boats & alas into our boat that will take us to our destination. The 45 min drive under the hot sun but a beautiful blue sea is exhilarating. I am reminded of the old song O'er the honey Blue Sea sung by Frederick Harvey in his melodious baritone voice. Start of an adventure indeed!
Map of Minicoy
So here's bringing you a few glimpses of this extraordinary journey
|Above & below: views of the beach on which the 20 bedded resort is located|
|Clean and comfortable cottages - being a beach resort, the attached bathrooms are without a roof and also have a separate entrance to ensure you remove the sand and water before entering the room.|
|Sunset over the jetty|
|Coconut trees dot this tiny island|
|The lighthouse built in 1837 adds an interesting aura to the island|
|in the sea - ready to admire the life underneath|
|Part of the reef bed|
|Above & below preparing for the underworld!|
|Closer look at the over century old lighthouse|
|And finally, what lies in the ocean bed - brain corals, mushroom corals, variety of Fish the blue green Chromis, Daschylus, beautifully coloured butterfly fish and lots of interesting creatures.|
|An Eel wanting to come out after the human presence goes|
|Coral known as Acropora|
|Endangered species Trdacna maxima or Giant Clam|
|Not much of birdlife on this island except an abundance of House Crows. Recorded 7 species. above is the Grey heron and below is the Whimbrel in flight|
|Getting ready to board the boat|
|healthy competition - boat used for boat races can take 44 people|
|Last morning in Minicoy|
|View of the island from the boat|
And finally back to Willingdon islands, Fort Kochi
Above & below - a view of the Jetty at dawn
8.2784° N, 73.0462° E
The ancient name of Maliku (Minicoy) was Mahiladū, mahila (women) + dū(island) meaning women's island. However, Minicoy is also called Maliku. Minicoy is the second largest and the southernmost among the islands of the Lakshadweep archipelago.
The small population numbers around 10000 and very creditably has a literacy rate of 82%. While the local population follows Islam as a religion, it is also interesting to note that the family structure follows a matrilineal system.
The atoll contains two islands. The main island is located on the eastern and southeastern side of the lagoon, along the reef fringe. It measures about 10 km from its northern end to its southernmost point and it is about 1 km wide in its southern half, while the northern half is a narrow sandspit, often less than 100 m wide. On the southern side of the main island lies the uninhabited islet of Viringili which in earlier times was used for leaving Leprosy patients.
A trip to any of the islands of Lakshdweep should be planned by registering with the local authority in Cochin - SPORTS.It is mandatory to obtain the mandatory permission before embarking on the journey. Only 10 tourists are allowed at a time on the Ship and there is a 20 bedded tourist resort run by the government of Lakshdweep. So you do need to plan in advance.
My special appreciation to BNHS, the ever positive Isaac who made this trip happen & the group leader Prachi who enthusiastically introduced us th the world under the ocean. the local BNHS researcher Saluddin & the team of people who patiently and with a smile served us both at the resort and on the boat
A good reference book is the the latest book on Marine life by Deepak Apte.