A large shallow bay and a protected area, the Gulf of Mannar harbours a rich marine biodiversity. A part of Indian Ocean, the Gulf also provides livelihood to thousands of people belonging to fishing community. The Gulf is famous for its coral reefs as well. Obscure among all these is a small number of women who venture into water and collect seaweed to run their families. Seaweed usually grows on dead coral reefs and has a huge demand in cosmetic industry as well as food business. After the declaration of Gulf of Mannar as a marine reserve, there are several restriction on any kind of commercial activities in this part of the sea. This makes the lives of these women hard as their harvesting ground is shrinking day by day. However, bearing the scorching sun and unpredictable waves, they venture into sea and return with a variety of seaweed, which finds use in various industrial sectors.
Photographed off the coast of Keelakkarai, Ramanathapuram district, Tamil Nadu