A priliminary report on the ichthyofauna of Yedayanthittu Estuary (Tamil Nadu, India) and rivulets draining into it
M. Eric Ramanujam 1 & R. Anbarasan 2
1,2 Pitchandikulam Bioresource Centre, Auroville, Puducherry 605101, India
Yedayanthittu Estuary is part of the Kaliveli wetland complex which includes the Kaliveli Floodplain, Uppukalli Creek and lowland streams draining into it. The ichthyofauna of Kaliveli Floodplain and Uppukalli Creek has already been assessed (Ramanujam 2005). This report concerns the list of species found in the estuary and and lowland streams.
Study Area and Methods
The Kaliveli complex has already been described (Ramanujam 2005). Lowland drains behind Kurumpuram Reserve Forest (Villupuram District, Tamil Nadu) are part of the Arni River complex and has its origin in the Eastern Ghats.
Yedayanthittu or Muttukadu Estuary (12012’-12015’N & 70056’-8000’E) extends from a little north of Marakkanam Road Bridge to the point of confluence with the Bay of Bengal at Alamparai (Kancheepuram District, Tamil Nadu). It is an area of intertidal mudflats and salt pans. It was once linked to Pulicat Lake via Chennai by the Buckingham Canal (Scott 1998). The feature of the estuary is that during the monsoon season (September-mid November) the salinity is low (<1600uS/cm), but during the rest of the year it is brackish (1,600-4,800uS/cm), saline (4,800-51,500uS/cm) and even hypersaline (>51,500uS/cm) depending on the tides and proximity to the sea. The naturally occurring vegetation consists of sea grasses such as Halophila ovalis, mangroves such as Avicennia marina and Rhizophora sp. (the latter has been planted lately) and algae such as Chaetomorpha, Enteromorpha, etc. A degraded mangrove swamp also exists whose dominant vegetation includes Avicennia marina, Salicornia brachiata, Arthrocnemum indicum, Suaeda maritima and Sesuvium portulacastrum.
The study period was from January 2006 to December 2006. Specimens were collected randomly with local fishermen all over the estuary. In addition, small fish stranded in pools when the water receeds (that commercialists ignore) were collected. Identification was based on Daniels (2002), Day (1878), Jayaram (1981), Talwar & Kacker (1984), Talwar & Jhingran (1991) and Venkateswarlu & Rao (1986).
Results and Discussion
A total of 75 species were recorded under 14 orders and 37 families. Perciformes dominated with 32 species (42.66%). 47 species were found exclusively in the estuary, 18 were in lowland streams and 10 species occurred both in the estuary and freshwater. Oreochromis mossambica is the only exotic species.
Inventorisation of living resources is of paramount importance to evolve conservation and management strategies, especially when economically important species are involved. As of date it is unfortunate that the Kaliveli Wetland has received little attention (from the viewpoint of the ichthyologist), this report gains importance as the Kaliveli Wetland has been described as one of the two most important wetlands along the Coromandel Coast of southern India (Perennou 1987; Perennou & Santharam 1990).
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