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Dip in Chilika lake’s dolphin population

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    11th Apr, 2022

Context

The Odisha Government has conducted the Annual Dolphin Census recently.

The Census was carried out in Chilika Lake, Rajnagar Mangrove wildlife division, Baleswar wildlife division, Bhadrak wildlife division, Puri wildlife division and Berhampur forest division. 

About

Key findings from the Annual Dolphin Census:

  • The Dolphin population recorded along Odisha’s coast and in its water bodies has increased overall. It has gone up from 544 in 2021 to 726 in 2022.
  • A total of six species of dolphins — Irrawaddy, bottlenose, humpback, striped, finless and Spinner dolphinshave been found in this census.
  • The increase in the dolphin population in Odisha is largely due to high sightings in the Mangrove Wildlife Division of the Rajnagar jurisdiction, where 540 dolphins were found in 2022 compared with 342 in 2021.
  • However, the Chilika Lakewhich is a major tourist attraction for its Irrawaddy dolphins saw the number of Irrawaddy Dolphins drop sharply from 162 in 2021 to 151 in 2022.
  • In the remaining four Wildlife Divisions — Puri, Berhampur, Bhadrak and Balasore — dolphin sightings were negligible.
  • As per the 2022 dolphin census, Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary and nearby areas in Bhitarkanika saw dolphin count skyrocket to 540 from 342 last year.
    • These included 45 Irrawaddy, 135 bottlenose, 332 humpbacks, and 13 striped and 15 spinner dolphins. 

About Chilika Lake

  • Chilika Lake is a brackish water lagoon, spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha state on the east coast of India, at the mouth of the Daya River, flowing into the Bay of Bengal.
  • It is Asia’s largest salt-water lagoon and is separated from the Bay of Bengal by a sandy ridge.
  • It is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent. These birds travel great distances; migratory birds probably follow much longer routes than the straight lines, possibly up to 12,000 km, to reach Chilika Lake.
  • Chilka Lake is designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
    • The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands.
  • The Irrawaddy dolphin has been found in Chilika Lake. It is a euryhaline species of oceanic dolphin found in discontinuous subpopulations near sea coasts and in estuaries and rivers in parts of the Bay of Bengal and Southeast Asia.

About Irrawaddy Dolphins

  • Scientific Name: Orcaella brevirostris
  • Habitat: Irrawaddy dolphins are found in coastal areas in South and Southeast Asia, and in three rivers: the Ayeyarwady (Myanmar), the Mahakam (Indonesian Borneo) and the Mekong. 
    • The Mekong River Irrawaddy dolphins inhabit a 118-mile stretch of the river between Cambodia and Lao PDR.
    • These dolphins have a bulging forehead, short beak, and 12-19 teeth on each side of both jaws.
  • Conservation Status: Irrawaddy dolphins fall under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and are mentioned in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species.
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