The Swatch of No Ground, a submarine canyon in the Bay of Bengal known as a hotspot for cetaceans, has been declared Bangladesh's first “marine protected area”.
The declaration on the 1,738 square kilometres area, with an average depth of 900 metres and located south of Dublar Char, was made through an environment and forest ministry circular on October 27 under the Wildlife (Conservation and Security) Act, 2012.
The announcement officially restricts fishing and other offshore commercial and any form of unauthorised activities in the area, ensuring long term protection of marine life there.
In a press release dated November 1, Tapan Kumar Dey, conservator of forests, Wildlife Circle, Bangladesh Forest Department, lists endangered dolphins, whales, porpoises and sharks found in the area.
They include Irrawaddy, pink river, bottlenose, spinner and spotted dolphins; finless porpoise; Bryde's, fin, humpback, sperm, dwarf sperm, killer or orca and false killer whales; and hammerhead, blue, whale, tiger and sawfish sharks.
The Wildlife Conservation Society says the area has been acting as a spawning and breeding ground of many endangered oceanic species of the Bay and Indian Ocean.