St. Martin's Island

St. Martin's Island is a small island in the northeast part of the Bay of Bengal, about 9 km south of the tip of the Cox's Bazar-Teknaf peninsula, and forming the southernmost part of Bangladesh. It is the only coral island in Bangladesh. It is about 8 km west of the northwest coast of Myanmar at the mouth of the Naf River. The local name of the island is "Narical Gingira", also spelled "Narikel Janjina/Jinjera", translated from Bangla, meaning 'Coconut Island'.

St. Martin's Island has become a popular tourist spot. Currently, three shipping liners run daily trips to the island, including Sea-Truck and Keary-Sindbad. Tourists can book their trip either from Chittagong or from Cox's Bazar. The surrounding coral reef of the island has an extension named Chera Dwip.

In the past 5 years St. Martin's visitor population has increased dramatically. While this situation has proven to be lucrative for the islanders, it is causing the natural beauty of the island to deteriorate. Presently there are many efforts being put forth to preserve the several endagered species of turtles that nest on the island, as well as the corals, some of which are found only on Narikel Jinjera. Pieces of the coral reef are being removed in order to be sold to tourists.[1] Nesting turtles are sometimes taken for food, and their hatchlings are often distracted by the twinkling lights along the beach. Species of fish, a few just recently discovered, are being overfished. Every year the fishermen must venture further out to sea to get their catch. Most of them use motorless boats.

At high tide the island is about 3 miles around, and pinched in the middle. The island exists only because of its coral base, so removal of that coral risks erosion of the beaches. St. Martins has lost roughly 25% of its coral reef in the past 7 years.


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