BHUBANESWAR: In a big cheer for wildlife lovers, 146 dolphins were sighted in Chilika during the annual census conducted by Forest department on Sunday. The actual number of mammals could be around 160 in the brackish water lagoon.
The population of the aquatic mammals in the lake has vetted the estimation of Chilika Development Authority (CDA). The research team of CDA had pegged the estimation in a range of 133-172.
Chief Executive of CDA Susanta Nanda said the census figure of the Wildlife Wing of the Forest department indicates that the population of dolphins is stabilising above 150.
“The dolphins are colonising new areas in central and southern sector where they were not seen before. The dolphins are now sighted at different sectors of the lake including areas near Kalijai and Rambha. Removal of obstructions in the lake may have helped their migration,” he said.
The CDA in association with the Wildlife Wing had initiated several conservation measures for the protection of Irrawaddy dolphins in the lake. Besides survey and identification of habitats for proper management, dolphin watching protocol was formulated and tourist boat operators sensitised.
The mass demolition of prawn gheris in the recent years and regular cautions for responsible tourism seem to have resulted in maintaining the quality of the habitat for the endangered species and stabilisation of their population.
“Several areas were made free from encroachments by gheris. There are enough signs of the dolphins migrating from Satpada side to other areas. The take away from the census is that the population is likely to increase in next couple of years,” Nanda said. The annual counting of dolphins began at 7 am and continued till 1 pm. Altogether 18 teams undertook the census. The dolphin census in the lake was conducted with GPS tracking binocular for the first time.
Plying of motorised boats by fishermen and tourist boats were barred during the day for the census.
However, the exact number of the dolphins including the adults and calves can be known in next few days after a detailed analysis by the Wildlife Wing. While 113 dolphins were sighted in Chilika last year, 162 were spotted in 2018 and 123 in 2017.
146 dolphins sighted in the lagoon.
18 teams undertook the census.
GPS tracking binocular used for first time.
Motorised boats by fishermen and tourist boats barred during the day.
113 dolphins sighted in 2019.
162 spotted in 2018.