Coral reefs (Phylum, Cnidaria; Class, Anthozoa) are colonial organisms and they can secrete their own external calcium carbonate skeleton, thereby known as reef building corals (Hermatypic). Some corals are not reef building which are known as ahermatypic corals. Hard corals are also called as Scleractinian corals (sclera=hard). Coral reefs are one of the core ecosystems as it protects shores as well as provides breeding grounds for diverse groups of marine organisms. Corals are the richest depository which helps to maintain marine biodiversity.
Coral reefs of Gujarat coast are fringing type and are the most northern coral reefs in India. The estimated reef area in India is 2,374.9 km2 of which 352.5 Km2 are in the Gulf of Kachchh (GoK), Gujarat. Marine National Park of GoK, Kuchchh coastal region (Mundra, Mandvi and Kandla) and Saurashtra coast (Dwarka, Veraval and Mahuva) were reported as rich sites for coral reef resources in the Gujarat coast. Good live coral cover and species diversity Index were reported in Pirotan Island and Lakupoint (Poshitra) respectively (Kumar et al., 2014). Totally fifty four hard coral species recorded till date in the Gujarat coast based on the available literature. The age of coral reefs in the GoK varied from 5240 years before present (B.P.) at Salaya to approximately 45,000 years B.P. at Okha.
Coral atlas of Gujarat coast was published in 2011 under ICZMP and this type of documentation was published for the first time in India which was jointly prepared by Gujarat Ecology Commission (GEC) and Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and Geo-Informatics (BISAG) for understanding about the current status of coral reefs and coralline area of GoK, available impacts on reef ecosystem, through thematic maps based on satellite imageries. It was prepared particularly for the purpose of enabling effective policy which ensures better conservation and management of the coral reef ecosystem.
To promote the growth and benthic cover of degraded reef ecosystem at GoK, GEC is promoting coral restoration process through Coral transplantation collaborated with GEER foundation, Marine National Park of Jamnagar and Zoological Survey of India. This project is aimed to develop a protocol for coral transplantation process and also to develop 1200m2 with transplanted reef park at GoK by using local massive coral species as well as Acropora spp. from Gulf of Mannar and Lakshadweep group of Islands.