Mumbai: Thane creek's ferry rides to spot flamingos stalled due to malfunctioning boats

Updated: Dec 19, 2017, 12:58 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

Nearly eight months after the grand opening of the Thane Creek flamingo sanctuary, the ferry rides are yet to begin because of problems with the boat

It's that time of the year, when the flamingos have come a-visiting to Mumbai. Unfortunately, citizens will have to wait till next month to return the favour. The long-awaited boat ride at the Thane Creek flamingo sanctuary has been suspended for now, since the park's tourist boat has developed mechanical issues. The authorities expect to begin the ferry service for tourists by mid-January. In the meanwhile, visitors can still choose to take a walk in the park premises, but it's unlikely they'll get a close enough look at the flamingos.

Very few flamingos have arrived in the city so far, because of the unseasonable rain and haze. File pic for representation
Very few flamingos have arrived in the city so far, because of the unseasonable rain and haze. File pic for representation

The ferry ride was touted as the big attraction at the park, since it would offer tourists a closer look at the pink beauties in their natural habitat in the creek. However, the service has been blighted with one issue after another, and the boat rides never really took off. After a grand opening on April 30, the authorities realised that the boats they had picked would be too uneconomical and noisy to use at the sanctuary. A newer, bigger boat was ordered, and trials were started last month. But the officials realised that the boat had developed some snags.

Makrand Ghodke, assistant conservator of forest (ACF) from the State Mangroves Cell, said, "We already have a boat, but due to some technical issues in the engine, Mumbaikars will be able to enjoy the boat ride in mid-January."

Silver lining
On the bright side, it turns out that Mumbaikars aren't missing out on too much, since the flamingos have returned in very small numbers so far. "The flamingos have started arriving in the city, but their number is less. The reason this could be the unseasonable haze and rainfall in the city," said an official.

An average of 25,000-30,000 flamingos migrate to Mumbai every year, and a majority of them arrive here by November-December. The common places where Mumbaikars can spot them in abundance are Thane Creek, Airoli, Mahul and Sewree. They stay here till May, after which most of them migrate to the Bhuj, Gujarat, for breeding, leaving behind a small resident population. Around 90 per cent of these birds are lesser flamingos, while 5 per cent of them are greater flamingos.

Ferry facts
>> State mangroves cell has procured a 24-seat tourist boat
>> A one-hour ride will cost tourists R250 per head
>> The boat ride will cover 15 km, starting from Airoli and taking a U-turn near the Vashi creek bridge

1,690 Ha
Size of the flamingo sanctuary

794 Ha
Size of water body in the park

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