BHUBANESWAR: The first ever dolphin census carried out by the Wildlife Wing of Odisha along the coast has sprung interesting results with surveying teams sighting several species of the cetaceans during the day-long enumeration on Sunday.
The dolphin census was carried out in coastal forest divisions including Balasore, Bhadrak, Bhitarkanika, Puri, Chilika and Berhampur.
In Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary and off the coast, where such an exercise was carried out for the first time, at least six species of dolphins were sighted.
Earlier, Chilika was the only coastal eco-system where dolphin census was carried out on an annual basis. However, earlier last month, the Wildlife Wing decided to make an effort to identify pockets of dolphin habitats not only in the coastal eco-systems but also along the shoreline.
Bhitarkanika, a habitat known for estuarine crocodiles, birds and Olive Ridley turtles, is reported to have six species much to the delight of naturalists. Those comprised Bottlenose, two species of Humpback, Pan Tropical Spotted, Irrawaddy as well as Finless Porpoises.
At least nine teams comprising 31 enumerators were pressed for the census work in the sanctuary. While five teams conducted the census in coastal regions, four were pressed in the creeks. In Mahakalpada zone, there was zero sighting of the cetaceans.
Chilika, the home of Irrawaddy dolphins, saw the entire lagoon covered for the census for the first time. The Chilika Wildlife Division pressed 18 teams comprising 90 members across the lagoon for the census.
Official sources said concentrated efforts were made to map the dolphin habitats in Chilika and Bhitarkanika while in other divisions, it is a start so that census work can be strengthened in the years to come. Line transect direct sighting method was used for the census.
The Wildlife Wing will compile all the data for analysis. A composite census report for the six divisions would be brought out in a day or two. Twelve different species of dolphins are reported from Odisha coast.