Saturday, March 27, 2010

Island washes away in the Bay of Bengal

A small island has disappeared into the Bay of Bengal, between India and Bangladesh. The island, known as South Talpatti in Bangladesh and New Moore, or Purbasha, in India, was as large as 3.5 km by 3 km at low tide, (about 10,000 sq. meters) or about 2,500 sq. meters at high tide.

The island was located in an ecologically sensitive region known as the "Sundarbans", which also includes two UNESCO World Heritage sites and a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. As can be seen on the attached video, the same problems that sunk South Talpatti are endemic in the region.

Rising waters in the Bay of Bengal, increased incidence of cyclones and extreme weather, and a variety of human activities are all contributing to the loss of real estate into the ocean.

Complicating matters is the fact that the Sundarbans region has been called the "closest thing that Bangladesh has to a tourist attraction."  Opening the area up to significantly more tourism could hardly be beneficial to the environment, although it would no doubt be a welcome cash boost for Bangladesh.

Although the Sundarbans includes a World Heritage Site in both Bangladesh and India, the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve is only in India.

The Sundarbans are home to over 400 rare Bengal tigers, as well as other such threatened and endangered species as leopard cats,  fishing cats, gangetic dolphins, giant herons, estuarine crocodiles, several species of turtles and monitors and numerous other wildlife.

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