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Koggala lagoon and its surrounding

Koggala lagoon and its surrounding

Koggala lagoon, a basin estuary, is one the most scenic places on the island, with a large concentration of fauna and flora species in the island. It is located near the port city of Galle towards the southern tip of the island from Colombo.  The lagoon covers 727 hectares of surface area. It measures 4.8 km in length and 2 km at the widest point while the depth measured between 1-4 meters. There are 10 islands in the lagoon, namely Kath duwa, Kos duwa, Tala duwa, Medin duwa, Madol duwa, Keena duwa, Gan duwa, Kak duwa, We duwa and Kurulu duwa. Out of these ten spots only one (Gan duwa) is inhabited by the human. Rests of the islands are harbouring a vast range of animals, birds, amphibians, fishes, vertebrates and a large number of flora species.

Gan duwa expands over 8 acres and only 4 families living on the island at present. The people on the island are having the simplest form of life that one can imagine. They have no electricity and pipe born water, but still, they are happy and love to live on the island due to the calmness and the serene atmosphere of their habitat. One can have the opportunity to explore this isolated place, and the journey from the mainland to Gan Duwa takes few hours with a paddle boat. And it is the best method to reach the island, while the surrounding here provide endless possibilities to enjoy the nature and you need time. On the other hand, no harm is done to the virgin environment when you travel by paddle boat. Even though, the rich bio-diversity of Koggala lagoon cannot be explored within few hours even a day or two due to its vastness. Martin Wikramasnghe, a genius writer is one, who ascertained the value of this surrounding and enjoyed it. Therefore, he has given a prominent place to Koggala lagoon and surrounding in his writings.

Tourism is one of the main income generators for the people living on the island. Some people in the island are engaged in agriculture and they cultivate paddy, coconut, cinnamon, areca nut, jackfruit, breadfruit etc… But none of them is properly cultivating the crops, therefore they do not get a considerable amount of yield. Some of the products such as cinnamon are sold to the tourists, who visit the lagoon while the rest of the products are sold at the village market in Habaraduwa. Fishing is also another important industry for the people here.

One will encounter the place where the treasured stone is located, on the way to the Gan Duwa. It is one of the deepest places in the lagoon. The treasure stone looks like a halved stone, the letters on the stone might give a clue about it, but no one has been able to read it so far. The stone inscription in the nearby temple, known as ‘Hirigal Devala’ makes some remarks on the treasure that is hidden beneath the stone.

A large number of foreigners from the nearby resorts such as Galle, Beruwala, Weligama visit the Koggala Lagoon and enjoy the natural beauty of its surrounding. But most of the tourists are escorted by motorboat and it makes some damages to the fragile eco-system here, through the smoke and the roaring noise of the boat engines. Recently Koggala lagoon is selected as the landing place for seaplanes in the area. It might also make a huge impact on nature. Naturalists opine that it would frighten the birds around the lake and kills the fish by the strong waves generated on the water surface by the planes.

A group of scientist from the University of Ruhuna has conducted a research on the wetland of Koggala and they have discovered that ecological conditions of the lagoon are largely changed over last few years owing to the human intervention and tsunami in 2004. They further opine that there could be a huge natural destruction of nature; if not the conservation methods are adopted to save the Ecological system of Koggala Lagoon.

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Sanjeewa Padmal (Seerendipity tours)

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