Deep Sea Faunal Diversity in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Deep Sea Faunal Diversity in India

Mains level: Not Much

India is home to 4,371 species of deep-sea fauna, including 1,032 species under the kingdom Protista and 3,339 species under the kingdom Animalia, a recent publication by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has revealed.

Highlights of the Survey

  • India is surrounded by the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, the Andaman Sea, and the Laccadive Sea (Lakshadweep Sea).
  • Of the 4,371 species, a maximum of 2,766 species has been reported from deep-sea areas of the Arabian Sea, followed by 1,964 species from the Bay of Bengal, 1,396 species from the Andaman Sea, and only 253 species from the Laccadive Sea.

RIMS ship investigator

  • India is one of the countries that made a pioneering exploration in the deep Indian Ocean region in 1874 by commissioning a RIMS (Royal Indian Marine Survey) ship investigator.
  • This conducted enormous studies in seas around India and continued to work till 1926.

Components of the exploration

  • The deep-sea ecosystem was the most unexplored ecosystem across the world. It included hydrothermal vents, submarine canyons, deep-sea trenches, seamounts, cold seeps, and mud volcanoes.
  • This publication, the first of its kind, provides baseline information on all groups of fauna and biological organisms in the Indian deep seas.
  • Not only will this support our knowledge on conserving and managing deep-sea faunal resources, but it will also pave way for their sustainable utilization.

Key findings

(1) Mammals

  • There are 31 species of sea mammals that are found in the deep-sea ecosystem of Indian waters, including the Critically Endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin.
  • Two other species, the Indo-Pacific Finless Porpoise and the Sperm Whale are recorded as ‘Vulnerable’ in the IUCN classification.
  • The list of mammals includes Cuvier’s Beaked Whale and Short-beaked Common Dolphin, which dive as deep as 8,000 meters below the Earth’s surface.

(2) Marine turtles

  • Out of the seven species of marine turtles found across the world, five species have been recorded from Indian waters.
  • India is known as one of the best and largest breeding grounds for sea turtles, especially for Olive Ridley and Leatherback Turtles, across the world.

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