Panaji: The stunning Sinquerim-Candolim shoreline disappears from June to January. This isn't a natural phenomenon, it is the effect of a 240-m-long ore carrier sitting a mere 300 metres from the beach since the last eight years.

In Goa, most beach stretches are partly submerged during the three-month monsoon period because of the turbulent tides.

By October, the waters recede to reveal the sandy shore. Not however, in this tourist centric beach stretch.

"Since the last four years, we don't have a beach here till January," said Agnelo Lopes, a local resident. Morgan D'Souza, a water sports operator added, "During the first four months after the monsoons, tourists don't come here as they can't swim. This year, we got the beach only during the third week of January."

While scientists of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) had recorded the changes along the shoreline only in passing four years ago, locals say the beach's topography has been vastly altered by the presence of the vessel.

"The beach has lost at least 20 ft of sand. Before, if you stood on the waterline, you could see people walking into restaurants on the beach, now it's out of sight," said Paul Silveira who runs the Big Blue Water Sports at Sinquerim.

He further compared the earlier distance from the steps that access the beach to the waterline. "In the past it was a walk of about 60 metres, now it's around 10-15 metres."

River Princess, believe locals, has changed the very topography of the Sinquerim-Candolim beach. They estimate that the sea has eroded an over 3-metre high barrier of sand dunes and surged forcefully into 20 to 25 metres of the one-km beach expanse, causing an unnatural curve in the shore line.

In contrast, the beach expanse parallel to the ship appears to have been protected from intertidal action. The gap between high tide line and vegetation is wider here than the rest of the stretch.

"The ship prevents the tide from bringing in the sand and re-depositing it on the beach. The winds that blow along with the currents from Calangute towards Sinquerim are also blocked by the vessel, which is why there's lots of sand deposited near the Kingfisher Villa while here - near the fort - the shore is going bare," Silveira said.

Villagers complain that tourists are now shying away from this part of the 8 km-long Sinquerim-Baga shoreline, because the space for activities is inadequate. "The ship has to go, or else this beach stretch, of which Candolim is the heart and soul, will be affected," said Morgan D'Souza.

A team of NIO scientists headed by Dr Baban Ingole, while studying the ecotoxicological effects of oil seepage from the ship, had confirmed 'a change in the beach morphology' and 'intertidal expansion has been increased in the area'.