Present communication reports the physico-chemical and biological quality of seawater and status of benthos of a highly industrialized shore of the north-western coastline of India. The coastal area considered for the present study, encircled by a variety of industries, was divided into two sampling sites and monitored for two consecutive years. Results of the water quality suggest that the obtained values of the physical and chemical parameters of seawater were comparable with data reported earlier. However, data obtained in the biological parameters of the seawater showed a declining trend. Results of the intertidal macrofaunal diversity studies revealed that the muddy upper littoral zones were represented by few species of coelenterata, porifera, arthropoda and mollusca. In the rocky—muddy middle littoral zones, gastropods, stars fishes, corallites, crabs, polychetes and tubeworms were present, whereas, predominantly rocky lower littoral zones were comparatively rich in macrofaunal diversity with small patches of coral colonies. However, when the results obtained in the present study was compared with that of earlier reported data, it was clear that the macrofaunal diversity indeed declined considerably over the years. This may be due to habitat destruction and habitat alteration in the coastline caused by increased anthropogenic activities in the area. Seasonal variations in the population density and abundance were observed in most of the faunal groups except in sessile corals and sponges. This may be due to local migration of the faunal groups towards deeper regions of the Gulf, as supported by the analysis of similarity, to avoid influx of freshwater during monsoon, and high temperature during summer and post monsoon seasons. The overall assessment of different parameters of this study revealed that though the physico- chemical characteristics of the seawater did not varied much from the earlier reported status, the biological characteristics of the seawater and intertidal zone was affected possibly by a high degree of anthropogenic pressure.
Keywords: diversity of benthos, ecological status, India, industrial influence, water quality