The Marine National Park is situated offshore from the southern coast of the Gulf of Kutch in the Jamnagar district of Gujarat. The Gulf of Kutch, located on the west coast of India is an arm of the Arabian Sea, and separates the Saurashtra peninsula from the Great and Little Rann of Kutch. It is about 58 km wide on the seaward (western) side, and 170 km wide in the eastern side. The Marine National Park was established in 1982 under the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 for the protection of threatened marine flora and fauna in the area. This park was declared as the first marine national park in India in 1982 and covers an area of 458 square kms. The Marine National Park consists of an archipelago of 42 islands. Some of the best known islands are Pirotan, Karubhar, Narara, Poshitra.
Colourful coral reefs, mangrove swamp forests, mudflats, sea grass, sea weeds, Saag, Sesam, Kheru, Limda and rocky shoals form the landscape of the shallow waters of the Marine National Park. These plants prevent the land based predators from penetrating and also provides shelter to the birds for nesting and roosting purposes. Coral lichen, Coral sponge, Green sponge, Puffer Fish, Crabs, Prawns, Sea anemones, Jelly Fishes, Octopus, Sea hare, Shelled mollusks, Sea slug, Star fish, Dolphins, Sea turtles and various coastal birds like painted storks, herons, egrets, ibises, spoonbills, darters, flamingoes, avocets, ducks, terns, gulls, little cormorants and stints can be seen feeding on the mudflats and rocky shores, nesting on the mangrove canopies and wading in shallow coastal waters. Dugong or sea cow, a marine mammal that looks like sea and breed in the Arabian sea and rare species of Bonnalia, an undivided worm, was also found here. During the monsoon season, 30 different species of migratory birds make their home among the mangrove forests. One of the most threatened birds, the great Indian bustard and Chowsingha, the world’s only four-horned antelope is also found in certain protected areas in this island.
In the Marine National Park, corals create fantasies in stone and are the master builders of the Park. Their limestone fortresses come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, from the convoluted brain coral to corals that look like horns. There are some plants that look like animals and animals that look like plants. There are various varieties of turtles, shrimp, sponge, eels, sea urchin lurk, fishes and octopuses that create a brilliance of colours that can be unknown, unseen and unimaginable to us. Gobies are also there which clean parasites from other fish and fishes who burrow so deep that only their eyes can seen. The Marine National Park also maintains a hatchery at Madhopur near Porbandar and also some temporary hatcheries on islands near Okha and Dwarka.
The best time to visit the Marine national park is from end of October till end of February. You can also hire boats at jetties near Jamnagar for a trip to the Marine national park.