Irrawaddy dolphins on the rise: Census

Bhubaneswar: The state wildlife department in association with Chilika Development Authority (CDA) conducted annual Census of the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) in the Chilika Lake, official sources informed on Friday.

“We usually do the census in the month of February. We are using binoculars and global positioning systems (GPS) in this dolphin census,” CEO of Chilika Development Authority Ajit Patanaik said.

A team of 60 experts including officials from state wildlife wing, CDA, research scholars and members of a local self help group (SHG) were engaged in the Census work that kicked off at 6 am today morning and ended this evening only.

The members were divided into 16 survey teams for a smooth headcount of the endangered species. The current status of the dolphins in the lake would be published after reviewing the statistics prepared by the survey teams.

The census is done through the standard citing method. As per the method, the enumerators count the dolphins while rising to the water level for breathing.

The enumerators mark the dolphins as per the dolphins’ time and place of appearance with the help of a pre-loaded global positioning system thereby leaving a little or no scope for repetition of or missing the count.

“We will review the data after the Census is over. Then, we can know the exact number of dolphins present in the lake,” CDA dolphin research scholar Mumtaz Khan.

The census, which is being conducted on a yearly basis since 2003, has recorded an increase in the number of the dolphins in the brackish water lagoon. While in 2008 the number of the dolphins was recorded to be 138, in 2009 and 2010 the number was witnessed to be 146 and 158 respectively.