Different people have different places in their bucket list when they visit Gujarat. Mine was Jamnagar , Narara Marine National Park. When I first read about this park I was pretty amazed that you have to just walk around to appreciate the marine life under the sea. Yes you read that right! The sea here recedes from the land for good 4 km at particular intervals and all you have to do is walk to see what the waves were hiding beneath them all the while. But the trick is to know when the sea recedes. For every four hour or so this phenomenon happens. Considering we had no idea when the water will recede, we packed a mini picnic and reached the park as early as 7am. Surprisingly our first sighting was a Jackal pack hunting for food around! The forest officer gave us the news we did not want to hear, “today the water will recede probably by 10.30!!” We were done with teplas, chikis, chaklis and at 11 the guide said we can proceed.
Jamnagar Narara Park – Water receded exposing rocks and marine life
Water had not yet receded. There were four bus full of people by now and groups of people were already in the water shouting with excitement. It was like some exhibition at Jamnagar with half the people at one place. With water up to a feet high, the guide started turning each and every rock to find life. This was just the opposite of what I had thought of. I had pictured life all around, small fishes scurrying and we will get to see them by walking around. This was just ulta.. He turned the rocks and started pointing out to mussels, snails, crabs. Crabs tho I eat! So what fun? Some colorful deposits of fish, fish eggs, the rocks looked super colorful.
Species of Crab – Jamnagar Marine National park
My big expectation however was to watch the puffer fish puff up. The fish bloats like a round balloon when taken out of water and I wanted to watch it.. Crabs in different color done. Children were making so much noise and were picking up the marine life in their hands. Then a big crowd gathered in front of a guide and my guide ran there and came with the puffer fish.. By now the fish was heaving and I was like please leave it in the water. The guide aaramse assured it can live for 2hrs without water, dunked it in the water for it to become flat and then pulled it up, it was half bloated and then it moved from his hand to another to another, God knows if it was finally left in the water or not!!
Puffer fish gasping for air
The next attraction was the octopus. The place has lot of octopus from babies to big ones. The octopus were also pretty much dug out of the rocks and were passed from one hand to another while it pleaded to be released by spraying the ink at us multiple times. But it didn’t know we were intelligent humans and not just some predators to wade us away with inks! However what was more intelligent of it was to camouflage when it could feel us approaching! Unless you are a guide, you can never know it is present there! It’s body color changes depending on where it is present.
Octopus! Jamnagar Marine National Park
The big moment was when I stumbled on a huge octopus! Not somebody catching it for me. But, as I walked it brushed my leg, again sprayed dirty ink on my feet and went! I was by now imagining that the tentacles would catch hold of my feet but good boy, he went ahead to hide under the rocks.
My friendly Octopus find!
The Jamnagar marine national park has lot of corals too. Live corals. As we walked soon we were capable of identifying corals, dead corals, fish deposits, etc. By now it was past noon and the sun was highly reflecting on the water. My pictures came out bad and I was also getting roasted up by the sun. There were couple of other plants in the water which when touched buried itself under water. It was tough getting the pics with reflection of the sun so we just decided to hang around until it got tired of us and buried itself in. After about 3 hrs of walking in the sea water under the scorching sun we decided to return to land.
Species of Star Fish – Jamnagar Marine National Park
By now we could feel that the water had receded much further down and all that was left now were rocks and beautiful patterns of sand. It looked more serene with the crowd receded too. The mangroves now exposed their shoots and the park looked picture perfect.
Beautiful patterns of sand left behind by water
Narara Marine National park is around 70km from Jamnagar and better to have your own vehicle. The entry ticket was Rs.50/- per person plus guide charges. Guides are people from in and around the villages. Though the park says conservation area, national park, etc, it just looked like some villager showing us around a natural phenomenon happening everyday. There was no regulation on what is allowed inside the park, how to handle marine life, how many people allowed, nothing! Excited kids were squeezing around star fishes and puffer fish, adults were no less. Oil refinery line running so close. Some people randomly walked in and were turning the rocks by themselves.
Mangroves with water receded
It didn’t really meet my expectation. There were no turtles or sting rays or prawns as mentioned in their website. It is just an experience to walk in the sea and it is definitely a wonder to see how the tide just dies down. On a day when there is no crowd and the sun is merciful then it would be one of the best experiences to have.