The biodiversity of Sonadia Island (Bangladesh) has been destroyed by about 90 percent
Sonadia Island situates in the estuary of Cox’s Bazar city and Shail Island of the Bay of Bengal in Maheshkhali, Bangladesh. The 4046-ha island is a ward of the Qutubjom Union of Maheshkhali Upazila.
The island has a large sandy beach on the seaside and is full of biodiversity, with mangroves on the other side. It also has a nationwide reputation as the Golden Island.
This island, famous for its natural beauty, has already been destroyed by creating shrimp cages. Now the beach is occupied by floating plastic and other waste.
Due to encroachment and pollution, the island’s rare species of animals, trees, and vines are about to be destroyed. Recently, a group of environmental scientists led by the Director General (Additional Secretary) and oceanographer Syed Mahmud Belal Haider of Bangladesh Ocean Research Institute, Cox’s Bazar, visited Sonadia Island and expressed surprise.
The seven kilometers of the beach from the eastern part of the island to the western part are only garbage. Various types of waste, including plastic products, bottles, plastic sandals, bags, nets, and medical waste, have piled up.
Ekram Mia, a member of the local Union Parishad (UP), said, ”The sea tide often washes away plastic products and dead animals during the monsoon season.
On October 24, 2022, during Cyclone Sitrang, several tons of plastic waste washed up on the beach. No official initiative has been taken to remove these wastes.”
The private organization Nature Conservation Management (NACOM) has been working with the environment and biodiversity in Sonadia for a long time.
Abdul Qayyum, Manager of NACOM of Cox’s Bazar, said, ”Due to the destruction of the natural environment of the beach, the turtle egg laying rate has also decreased. Apart from this, other marine animals and birds are disappearing.”
Abdul Qayyum further said, ”Until 2020, turtles of various species used to lay 10,000 to 12,000 eggs a year. Last year this number reached one thousand. Turtles have not yet come to lay eggs in this season.”
Bangladesh Oceanographic Research Institute (BORI)’s scientists are working to monitor the environment and biodiversity of this island.
Their observations have shown that floating plastic waste breaks into powder and mixes with the ground. This hinders the formation of soil bonds and makes the soil toxic. As a result, the habitat of animals living on the beach destroys. In addition, scientists believe that the biological defense system of the natural plants of the beach is not developing.
Oceanographer Syed Mahmud Belal Haider, Director General of BORI, fears soil pollution in Sonadia Island is due to plastic waste.
Syed Mahmud Belal Haider said, ”The plastics floating on this island can turn into microplastics and mix again in the sea. In this, some animals and plants may be lost from the environment forever due to seawater pollution.
About 90 percent of Sonadia’s biodiversity from three centuries ago has been destroyed. With planned steps, it is possible to save Sonadia’s biodiversity and return it to its previous state.’’
Translated by: Aivee Akther
Courtesy: গ্রীন পেইজ Green Page (Bengali)