KENDRAPARA: Dolphin population is fast dwindling in the water bodies of Gahiramatha Marine Sanctuary and its nearby areas within Bhitarkanika National Park here. Forest officials counted only 62 dolphins this year as compared to 126 and 307 sighted in 2019 and 2018 respectively. This was revealed by the dolphin census report released on Monday.
Deputy Conservator of Forest (Wildlife Management) Pradipta Kumar Sahoo said during the one-day dolphin census on January 19, forest officials sighted 60 Irrawaddy and only two Bottle-Nose dolphins in Gahiramatha. Last year, 14 Irrawaddy, as many Bottle-Nose and 98 Humpback dolphins were counted.
However, the population of Irrawaddy dolphin has increased in Chilika lake and other water bodies of the State. As many as 146 Irrawaddy and 17 Bottle-Nose were sighted in Chilika. In the water bodies of Puri, two Irrawaddy and five Bottle-Nose dolphins were counted.
Similarly in Balasore district, only one Bottle-Nose dolphin was found. Last year, 130 Irrawaddy dolphins were counted in Chilika. Sahoo said that 259 dolphins were sighted in the State last year. But this year, the number fell to 233 though population of Irrawaddy dolphins has increased in Chilika lake.
Forest officials conduced the first dolphin census in Gahiramatha in 2015. As many as 270 dolphins including 58 Irrawaddy, 23 Bottle-Nose, 123 Sousa Chinensis, 50 Sousa Plumbera, 15 pantropical spotted and one Finless porpoise were counted in Gahiramatha during the census. In 2016 and 2017, the census could not be carried out due to bad weather.
Dolphin has been included in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and in Appendix II of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). It has also been categorised as Endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List, the officer informed.
Three months back, carcasses of three Irrawaddy dolphins including a calf were washed ashore on the beach at Pentha within the sanctuary. Sources said many dolphins die every year off the coast after being caught in trawler and other nets, the major reason of the decline.
307 dolphins counted in 2018
Population of Irrawaddy dolphin rises in Chilika lake
146 Irrawaddy and 17 Bottle-Nose dolphins sighted in Chilika
2 Irrawaddy and 5 Bottle-Nose dolphins found in water bodies of Puri
Only 1 Bottle-Nose dolphin found in Balasore district