The Islands look like emeralds in the vast expanse of blue sea. Varying hues of turquoise blue translucent water surround them. Coral atolls, the matchless marine environment with myriad colours results in a complex interaction of animate and inanimate things. Built on ancient volcanic formations is the Lakshadweep. It consists of 12 atolls, 3 reefs and 5 submerged banks. The atolls poised on submarine banks harbour 35 islands having an area of 32 sq. Km. Of these, 10 islands are inhabited, namely Agatti, Amini, Andrott, Bitra, Chetlat, Kadmat, Kalpeni, Kavaratti, Kiltanand Minicoy
Each Island fringed by snow-white coral sands, is marked by a huge shallow calm lagoon on one side which separates it from incoming swells of the outer sea by the fort wall-reef made of massive coral boulders and live corals. The only coral islands of our country, is the result of gradual assimilation of calcium from the water by corals and their turning into reefs.
What meets the eye at first is the lush green colour that gracious tall palm trees paint. Undoubtedly, coconut is the only commercial crop. Deep green shrubs known locally as Kanni, Cholam, Chovak, Punna and Cheeranicharacteristically border the base of coconut palms. Ipomea is a conspicuous ground runner. Shrubs and runners play a strong role in preventing erosion. The state tree is breadfruit tree.
Common sea birds are Tharathasi, (Sterna fuscate) and Karifetu (Anous solidus) the former being the state bird. Most of them nest on an island called Pitti-a bird sanctuary.
Apart from common forms of life, exotic, kaleidoscopic life under water is abundant and marvelous. As a result of rich life, there always exist competition for food, shelter and mates. Strikingly the colourful fishes draw ones attention by their interesting behavior, peculiar forms and captivating movements. Gracefully swimming from one place to another are the butterfly fishes resembling butterflies in the underwater grounds. Grazers of the green pastures are Surgeonfish. Of great many varieties of surgeons, the one commonly seen is the Powder blue surgeonfish.
They are called so because of a razor like spine they carry near the tail. Because of strong beaks, the Parrotfishes attained their name. Cute Damselfishes live among branching corals showing territorial behaviour. Earthly pincushions aliens are Porcupine fishes that inflate themselves into a ball, erecting the spines when disturbed. A similar cousin to them is the Pufferfish. Snake like resident of dark crevices are Moray Eels which hunt by smell at night and their enemy is the Octopus as it seeks the same dark resting-places.
Sedentary and slow moving creatures are Sea cucumbers, shelled animals and Hermit Crabs. A variety of crabs, lobsters and shrimps inhabit the crevices of corals. Lots of food fishes inhabit the coral atolls. The Mas-Choorai and Choorai, as people of Lakshadweep call Tuna, is their chicken of the sea and is mainly caught using poles and lines, with live bait to charm them. Keen observers occasionally see playful Dolphins, Turtles, Rays and flying fishes.