Friday, 31 October 2014

Pasikudah Beach

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Pasikudah or Pasikuda (Tamil: பாசிக்குடா, Pronounced Paasi-Kudah, Tamil translation Green-Algae-Bay) is a coastal resort town located about 35 kilometers northwest of Batticaloa, Batticaloa District, Sri Lanka. It used to be a popular tourist destination, however due to 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and Sri Lankan Civil War tourist numbers have declined. Pasikudah and Kalkudah are located few km apart.

Since the end of the civil war in 2009 and the completion of Tsunami rehabilitation projects, Pasikudah has become a popular tourist destination amongst locals and foreigners alike. This is because Pasikudah is known to have one of the longest stretches of shallow coastline in the world. In other words, people walk kilometers into the sea because the water is only a few inches deep and the current is relatively weak compared to the rest of Sri Lanka's coasts.

Pasikudah is easily accessible from Trincomalee and Batticaloa, both of which cities have star class accommodation. Pasikudah is fast becoming an investors hub as foreign and local investors have shown interest in developing tourism along the beach. The Sri Lankan government's strict environmental policies have prevented certain plans for mass development, however at the same time the government's strong economic policies have promoted development to a certain extent.

The charms of Batticaloa such as the heavenly beaches of Pasikudah and Kalkudah have rarely been molested. Pasikudah is a bay protected from the ocean. The significance of Pasikudah is that its bed is flat and sandy and has a pleasant effect on  the feet. This can be experienced up to nearly 150 to 200 meters from the shore. The seabed is short on rock deposits, however it consists of sea cucumbers, which resemble a baby pool.   If  one  has  to  get  his chest  or neck wet, he or she might have to walk for more than 100 metres outward. Pasikudah is an ideal location for those who wish to learn swimming.

Passikudah Bay contains a shallow fringing coral reef towards the outer bay with scattered coral communities within the bay, and is connected to similar reef systems further south towards Kalkudah. It is one of the best-known reef systems in the east and has been proposed as a Marine Sanctuary by NARA . Passikudah is very popular among visitors due to the calm clear waters which are ideal for swimming but is currently only rarely visited due to the volatile security situation in the area. Coral mining is a major threat to the reef and has degraded large areas of reef around Kalkudah.

The reef is characterized by a shallow reef crest, inner reef lagoon and a steep outer reef slope. The inner reef lagoon has a depth of 0.5-2m while the outer reef slope extends seaward to a depth of around 8m. Coral growth is most extensive towards the north-western and south-eastern ends of the bay towards Natchivantivu and Kalkudah respectively. Branching, tabulate, massive and encrusting coral forms are common, with the healthiest corals being found along the outer reef slope. Numerous micro atolls made up of massive corals are found within the shallow sections of the reef lagoon. Passikudah is located in the dry zone with an annual rainfall ranging between 1000 –1100 mm and average temperatures between 30.40C – 33.60C. The reef undergoes periods of high turbidity when southward moving near-shore currents bring freshwater from Valaichchenai lagoon located immediately north of the bay are extensive coral stands within the reef lagoon although most corals are dead, possibly due to coral bleaching. The shallow sections towards the western end of the bay contain large areas of dead coral and algae. Distinct Porites micro atolls, that are subject to periodic exposure at low tide, are found in the shallow areas of the reef lagoon. The outer reef slope contains the most prolific coral growth dominated by branching and tabulate Acropora, Echinopora lamellosa, Montipora spp. and massive corals. The live coral cover in the shallow sections of the reef lagoon has been recorded to be around 15% although the coral cover on the reef slope is expected to be much higher. The reef fish community is dominated by damselfishes (Pomacentridae), surgeonfishes (Acanthuridae), parrotfishes (Scaridae) and wrasses (Labridae).

The reef provides protection from rough seas and mitigates coastal erosion along the coastline. This fact is highlighted by the coastal erosion where coral mining has taken place. Passikudah reef is part of a series of a discontinuous fringing reef system along the east coast of Batticaloa.

Fishing has been a traditional activity for inhabitants of the area for many years. The calm conditions and clear waters that prevail within the inner reef lagoon make it ideal for swimming, and the beaches were popular among locals and foreign tourist. This resulted in the development of the tourism industry in the area.  Pasikudah is a place for relaxation and renewal.

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