Chilika’s aquatic, terrestrial species under ZSI scanner

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Berhampur: Is the salinity content of water in Chilika Lake conducive for sustainable growth of aquatic animals? Is it congenial for terrestrial species? After the excavation of new mouth, has the brackish water lake become more favourable for Chilika’s flora and fauna?

These pertinent points have come under debate with researchers embarking on a year-long scientific study on the aquatic species’ adaptability to Chilika’s eco-system.

The Chilika Lake, country’s largest brackish water lagoon, has come under the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI)’s scanner with the premier zoological research body undertaking a study on the status of terrestrial and aquatic species inhabiting in the internationally-acclaimed Ramsar wetland site.

ZSI had turned 100 on July 2016 after it had been founded in 1916 pre-independence period. To commemorate the occasion, ZSI, Kolkata undertook the comprehensive survey of animal kingdom in Chilika. The scientific study is presently in full swing. It’s expected to be completed by 2017 year end. Chilika was incidentally the first project that ZSI had undertaken for scientific study after its establishment in 2017, said senior scientist, ZSI, Kolkata, Dr. Basudev Tripathy.

The ZSI had conducted similar studies on Chilika in 1916 and 1967. The findings of the latest study would be compared with the earlier ones to ascertain whether Chilika continues to be the congenial habitation corridors of aquatic and terrestrial animals.

The study on status of Chilika’s fauna is underway under the stewardship of a team of scientists from ZSI Kolkata. The researchers from estuarine biological regional centre based at Berhampur in Ganjam district are lending helping hand to the ZSI Kolkata team in the comprehensive scientific study, ZSI senior scientist Tripathy told this web portal.

The findings of the study which is in progress would throw new light on the sustainable growth of fauna along the wetland sites of the lagoon. Significantly some of the species that had been found living in Chilika a century back have been re-sighted; he said refusing to elaborate details.

Apart from the study on fauna, ZSI is also scientifically examining the salinity contents of water along the new excavated mouth. The new mouth that owes connectivity to Bay of Bengal was excavated during the nineties after ZSI had advised the Odisha forest department to this effect. The flow of brackish water into the lagoon was thinning and that had posed threat to aquatic and terrestrial species living along the lagoon and wetland sites.

The ZSI researchers are assessing whether the salinity content of water from the new mouth is compatible to terrestrial and aquatic species, he added.

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