Wan­ton de­struc­tion of Hikkaduwa’s coral reef

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - NEWS - Story and pix by Gamini Ma­hadura

The Hikkaduwa Coral Reef, the coun­try’s first and only Na­tional Ma­rine Park is con­sid­ered to be among the rich­est in ma­rine life the world over.

Ma­rine en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists say they have re­cently noted a racket in­volv­ing lo­cal tourist guides who break pieces off the coral reefs and sell them to for­eign tourists in a bid to at­tract ma­rine species has be­gun lur­ing many tourists.

The racket is pos­ing a threat to the rich ma­rine di­ver­sity in the Hikkaduwa area they say.

The trend among lo­cal tourist guides is break off parts the coral reef and sell it at ex­or­bi­tant rates to for­eign tourists in a bid to at­tract a va­ri­ety ma­rine species when put in wa­ter.

Bro­ken parts of reefs are sold for be­tween Rs 300 to Rs 1,000 a piece.

Out of 180 dif­fer­ent species of ma­rine coral reefs found in Sri Lanka, more than 170 of them are iden­ti­fied as be­ing unique species.

Lit­tle re­al­is­ing the dam­age her ac­tion causes a tourist tries to at­tract ma­rine species

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