Location in Karnataka
Netrani (also known as Pigeon Island) is a small island of India located in the Arabian Sea. It is off the coast of Karnataka situated approximately 10 nautical miles (19 km) from the temple town of Murudeshwara in Bhatkal Taluk. The island can be seen from the main coast over around 15 Kms including from various beaches in Bhatkal city as well as from the Murudeshwar Beach. Views above give this island the appearance of being heart-shaped. Besides pigeons, the other inhabitants of the island are wild goats. This island has scuba diving facilities and the place is easily accessible from Bhatkal, Mangalore, Goa, Mumbai or Bangalore. There are dive shops at Murdeshwara and Goa, that regularly organize diving tripes to the island. Those that donot want to dive can just visit the island and hike in by hiring the full fishing motor boat at the Bhatkal Fishing Harbour/Bunder. It would be beneficial if in big groups.
Netrani is a coral island which has a coral reef with many varieties of coral, butterfly fish, trigger fish, parrot fish, eels and shrimps can be seen here. Divers have also reported seeing orcas and whale sharks around the island. Normally diving/snorkelling is done from a boat which is anchored close to the island and usually visitors do not climb on to the island because of the sharp rocks and steep cliffs on the island. The Indian government was using this island for target practice for its armed forces. One can still find craters and unexploded bomb shells in the island. Fish eagles are thriving in this island primarily feeding on sea snakes and fish. A species of mongoose was also spotted in the island confirming mammalian inhabitants apart from bats. Whale sharks were also spotted by snorkellers. Eighty nine varieties of coral fish were found in the area during a study. This island offers diving suitable for professionals.
A 16-metre (52 ft) rock is used as a target by Indian navy for bombing and concerns were raised that this target practice is disestablishing the ecological balance of the area including that of Netrani Island. In 2012, Karnataka High Court issued stay on target practice and Naval authorities admitted that they are using a big rock, which is located at a distance of one kilometre (0.62 mi) is being used by them for bombarding during target practice. One can see empty shells rusting around Netrani and adjacent island. It is not recommended to visit Netrani without permission.
The best time to visit is between December and January. The resort stops taking tourists for snorkelling and scuba diving during June–September because the sea becomes rough. There are small shrines in the island and the light lit to offer pooja occasionally gives way to small-time forest fire in the island.
The local fishermen are protesting against unauthorised diving practices being conducted by tourist agencies located in Goa, Murudeshwar and Bhatkal, on the pretext that, regular diving by tourists has driven away the abundant fish they once used to catch regularly. In 2017 the local fishermen still were contesting all diving, including diving by agencies that had received the consession for diving from the state of Karnataka.
- Rajagopalan, Ashwin (14 March 2014). "A good day to dive hard". The Hindu, newspaper. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- Belgaumkar, Govind D (25 May 2008). "Coral reef at Netrani Island faces ecological threat". The Hindu, news paper. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- "Navy says it is not bombarding Netrani Island". The Hindu. 4 December 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- "Netrani island fire damages trees". The Hindu, Newspaper. 29 January 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- Upadhye, Amith S (14 September 2014). "Fishermen oppose diving in Netrani Island". Deccan Cronicle. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
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