Saturday, July 18, 2015

A trip to Karwar and Learning Aquaculture

I left for Karwar on the night of 12th July 2015. I was expected to reach the next day around 9, but was unaware that during monsoon, the train timings change, by 8 am I had just crossed Kankavli, and still about 2 hrs to go. Denver had decided that he would be going into his family business of Aquaculture. And to continue in that field and grow in it. A few days prior to my trip, I had received a call from him, asking if I would join him for a few days in this venture. I had a few plans for my future, but that was only to be realized after I leave the country in November. He was eager for me to just join him for a few days and see how things there are run. As I had spare time, I agreed and my tickets were booked, I was to go there for just 4 days, to see and learn about fish farming.

An Isolated Rabindranath Tagore Beach
I touched Karwar station at 11am. Denver was already waiting for me. The journey from Karwar railway station to the city is quite far. The house I was to stay was pretty good with all the basic amenities, including WiFi and a TV. After refreshing myself, we headed over to Karwar Beach. Also known as Rabindranath Tagore beach, as it was here where he wrote 2 of his most finest plays. The beach was beautiful and isolated. There was absolutely no one present. Every year in October, a 3 day festival takes place, known as Karavli Utsav, lots of shops, amusement rides etc. We could see the Karwar port nearby. Also there were alot of islands that were visible nearby. We went by bike to the next beach named Devbagh. Believe it or not, but Karnataka has better beaches than Goa. They are what we call, virgin beaches. Not exploited by tourists. There is not much to see in Karwar in terms of attractions, a few minutes from the Rabindranath Tagore beach is a Warship museum and an Aquarium. Karwar is a small costal town without any hustle or bustle.

Kali River separating the 2 beaches
In the evening, Denver took me to see the farm, where the Shrimp breeding takes place. This was where I would spend maximum time the next few days. Early morning the next day, we headed towards Goa to fill petrol. Many people from Karwar and the surrounding borders take a weekly trip to Goa to fill petrol as it is cheaper compared to non union territory states. On our way back, we visited the Aquarium and the Warship museum. The aquarium is small but well maintained even though there are hardly any visitors. The Warship museum consists of a single now out of service Warship INS Chapal kept on display along with a few missile replicas. It is possible to enter inside the Warship.
INS Chapal
In the evening we headed towards the farm again. Denver took me on a trip showing me all the 16 ponds and explaining how the process is done. There is a lot of monitoring and timely process that has to followed routinely. A lot of investment has been put into it and the people here have to make sure that no matter what, the end product has to be good. Another important factor is to maintain the dissolved oxygen in the water. Which has to always be above a rating of 5. Special meters are used to do these. There are also check trays present at every pond to routinely check the feed as well as the health of the fish (Shrimp in this case). Alot of the money is spent on the feed.

A Pacific White Shrimp
During a certain time, the Shrimp begin to outgrow their skin, this is called molding. They remove the old skin and produce a new one. This causes a lot of oxygen to be used. Machines such as ariators and blowers are always present in the water to make sure that the dissolved oxygen level does not reduce. That day we took the last DO Test at 9pm after which we headed home. 3 days had passed by now. I had learnt the basics. There was a lot more to be learnt. Although the best learning would be observing the entire process from the start. It takes 4 months for the first harvest. I had come during the 3rd month. Since the farm was really big, there is a lot of electricity requirements. The remaining was supplied by diesel generators. That morning we went to do diesel deliveries to the farm, followed by another trip to Goa for a petrol refill.

There are 2 main beaches at Karwar, separated from each other by the Kali river. Devbagh beach has more resorts, one of them offering guests their own private beach experience. There are many adjoining islands off the Karwar cost. These islands are accessible by boat. The most famous of them is Oyster island, owing to the British built lighthouse present on that island. Kurumgad is also a famous accessible island near Devbagh. There are boats that take you there. Sadashivgad fort is also present near the Kali river.
If you are in search for a calm place, Karwar is a perfect place to be. There are a lot of foreigners who head here towards November as its season time. Reaching Karwar from Mumbai is not difficult. Most hotels are quite reasonable, also most attractions are nearby, hence easy to travel. Overall I had a good experience, also got to experience Aquaculture first hand. It's a tough trade but not very hectic. It's also luck dependent. There is a lot of investment that has to be put into it, but you get your end product within 4 months.

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