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Life under water

Arrushi Doomra, a master’s student of Pondicherry University’s marine biology course, talks about what excites her under the sea and her stint with scuba-diving.

education Updated: Jul 09, 2013 15:43 IST
Gauri Kohli

Arrushi Doomra, a master’s student of Pondicherry University’s marine biology course, talks about what excites her under the sea and her stint with scuba-diving.

What were your reasons for choosing Pondicherry University?
In India there are three good universities that provide this course (MSc marine biology) — Goa University, Pondicherry University and Annamalai University. I chose Pondicherry University because it’s a Central university and it has a separate department of marine biology at Port Blair. Also, studying in the Andamans has its own charm… it is so close to nature and is hardly polluted. It is a very serene and beautiful environment to study marine biology.

Why did you opt for this course?
I find marine life very fascinating. I always wanted to experience the underwater world. My grandmother’s sister, who was a senior scientist at the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, also inspired me. I did my graduation in life sciences from Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi University. I appeared for the Pondicherry University entrance exam in marine biology and cleared it. The oceans occupy about 71% of the earth’s surface. The deepest parts of the seafloor are almost 11000m from the sea surface.

Certain physical and chemical features of the oceans including light, temperature, salinity, depth, density and pressure greatly influence conditions under which marine organisms live. Another aspect to why one should study this course is that human population causes changes in the marine ecosystem including problems of overfishing, exploitation of marine resources, changes caused by accidental or deliberate introduction of marine species into a new environment. Marine biologists need to find solutions to these problems. I would love to work on marine ecology, predator prey relationship, invasive species, and effect of ocean acidification on corals and coral associated ­organisms.

Another field would be marine mammology - how cetaceans they communicate inside the water. All this actually lead me into unfolding the secrets of the underwater world. I chose this course because it is very challenging, different, interesting and adventurous. I am also going to become a ­professional scuba diver.

I have a diving experience of 35m at max. I did a diving course at Havelock Island. Scuba-diving is important for your underwater marine research. People are opting for it as separate course too. I plan to pursue PhD in marine science.

How has your experience been studying here?
My experience has been generally good. Our faculty is good. Teachers are very punctual and conduct regular classes, group discussions and field trips. We have trips to the beach almost every day so that’s great fun.

The best thing about this university is that they have a separate department at Port Blair. Port Blair water is very rich is plant and animal diversity so I think this is the best place to study marine biology practically and theoretically.

Which are the things that you love about the place?
It’s very clean and green. People here are very careful about not to litter.

The place is rich in biodiversity. When I go for field work on the intertidal zone or for scuba diving, I always find a good number of invertebrates.

I like the mangrove ecosystem and, of course, the beaches are always there to bust your stress. My campus is very safe. I don’t feel insecure as I used to when I was in Delhi. Driving rules are very strict and all the traffic is controlled by the lady police.

A few things that you don’t like about the place...
Language is a very big problem as most students are south Indians. People here are way too conservative. There aren’t many places to explore apart from beaches and very few options to shop.

5 things one must do when in the city

* You should visit all the beaches mainly Wandoor and Chidiya Tapu
* You must visit Cellular Jail, it is the main attraction. “When I visited Cellular Jail, there was a feeling of patriotism and gratitude for all the brave Indians who were prisoners there,” says Doomra
* People who come to this place usually go to Havelock Island where you will see tourists from all parts of the world during the peak season. Havelock is a hub for scuba diving and also has beautiful beaches like Radha Nagar Beach, Elephant Beach and Kala Pathar
* “People should visit little Andaman, Neil Island, Barren Island (my favourite because it’s an active volcanic zone) and Diglipur,” she adds
* Just sit ideal and gaze at the waves and the ocean