Irrawaddy dolphin population in Chilika drops

Berhampur: The population of Irrawaddy dolphin in Chilika lake, famous for one of the biggest habitats for the sea mammal, dwindled as their number dropped from 153 in 2013 to 144 this year, state’s Chief Wildlife Warden S S Srivastav said.

“Population of dolphin in the lake reduced this time perhaps due to migration of sea animals from the lagoon to other areas, mainly to Bhitarakania,” Srivastav said.

The dolphin census in the lake could not be conducted successfully last year due to bad weather, said a senior officer of the wildlife department.

The wildlife organisation of forest department conducted the annual survey of dolphin population in entire Chilika as well as 480-km long Odisha coast on February 15.

The dolphin count was conducted on the basis of line-transect method, which was followed across the world to count the population of aquatic mammals, said a senior officer of the wildlife department.

Even though entire 1100 sq km lake was covered during the enumeration, most of the sea mammals were found in the sea channels near Satapada area, the official said.

The enumerators, consisting of the wildlife experts, have counted total 206 Irrawaddy dolphins in the entire coast, including Chilika lake, Srivastav said.

The other new places where the Irrawaddy dolphins were sighted by the enumerating teams were Hitaraknaiak-Gahiramatha National Park (58) and Bhadrak forest division (4), the chief wildlife warden said.

As many as 450 dolphins of 7 species were enumerated in the entire coast of the state which was conducted for the first time. Irrawaddy dolphins (206) topped the list. The others are Bottlenose (52), souse chinesis (125) and souse plumber (50) of Humpback species, pan tropical dolphin (15) and one each of Finless propoise and Ganges river dolphins.