Bad weather stalls dolphin census

Kendrapara: Rough sea and windy weather has stalled the annual dolphin census in Gahirmatha marine sanctuary under Bhitarkanika national park in Odisha.

“Sea was found rough and turbulent. The windy weather condition will be risky to undertake sea voyage for the headcount work,” said Divisional Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, Bimal Prasanna Acharya.

The first census drive of these species was undertaken last year and the salt-water estuaries and the sea-waters off the marine sanctuary had emerged as Odisha’s most congenial habitat for six species of dolphins. Altogether 270 dolphins were sighted at that time.

As the marine sanctuary is largely free from human interference, these marine animals might be finding it to be an ideal habitat.

The DFO said around 40 experts assigned the task of carrying out the headcount are waiting for three days.

Despite the rough sea, enumerators had ventured into the sea for about one nautical mile. But they had to return as it was not possible to stride further because of tall sea waves, Acharya said.

The census work would be taken up once the weather condition improves, he added.

A status survey of these marine animals is vital to study the growth pattern of the species living within brackish water bodies and shallow sea waters of Bhitarkanika national park Ramsar international wetland site, said forest officials.

Every year forest department conducts headcount of estuarine crocodiles, winter migrant avian species, monsoon migrant water birds.

Count is also made of the number of Olive Ridley turtles engaged in annual mass nesting at Gahirmatha beach in Kendrapara district.