Tropical Pacific Ocean Islands are sinking into the Ocean. 2 down, 19 to go. Is Coral Mining Taking the Blame?

May 22, 2011

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. If you learnt anything in school during your science lessons, surely this simple yet accurate and effective state of affairs was it. Newtons Law of Motion and his 3rd law of Physics. He was a genius. You should listen to what he had to say.  If one object pushes against another, the object receiving said push is not going to take this transfer of energy lying down and it is dam well going to push back. Put simply, its why you don’t fall through a wall when you lean on it. Its not so visible on Earth where we have things like gravity and friction continually fucking up science experiments but if you took this stage show to the moon and fired a cannon then the cannon would go backwards as far as the ball would go forwards. Sadly the moon landers were too busy playing golf and driving moon buggies around the Sea of  Tranquility to do some real, Newton-esque experiments. So you will have to take our word for it.

The Mannar Islands might well have looked something like this; we don't know because they have sunk.

But how does this have anything to do with tropical islands sinking under the turquoise waves of the South Pacific? It doesn’t really, it was just a round about way of saying that if you dig a big fucking hole then something is going to have to fill that hole. This is what has happened in the beautiful, tranquil waters  between India and Sri-Lanka in a very small region of islets that you have probably never heard of. The islands in the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park are sinking into the Ocean. Islands are sinking into the Ocean! This is not something that happens on a daily basis, so what in the name of all that is scientific, is happening and who is to blame?

Fishermen. That’s who. Maybe. Until 2002 there was an almost complete lack of regulations governing the mining of the precious coral reefs which abound in the Gulf of Mannar, as a result the fishermen did what they did best and mined those coral beds dry. The Gulf of Mannar supports the lives and livelihoods of over 300,000 fishermen and the coral is their highest earner. Being extremely rich in calcium carbonate the coral is an immensely efficient binding material for concretes and is heavily used in the construction business. Some islands sank so you could build some houses. Newtons Law. Kill something, build something.

Some say it is home to the Lost City of Atlantis

The area is home to 21 island and 2 of them have sank beneath the waves. Poomarichan and Villanguchalli are names you will now only find in the history books. As well as the loss of 2 islands (as if that wasn’t enough), there is obviously a whole host of fish and animals that could follow suit, not to mention the coral itself which most people in the area cite as the sole reason the whole region wasn’t completely destroyed during the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004. If the fisherman wont take the blame, then we will take the blame for the sinking Pacific islands of Poomarichan and Villanguchalli.

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