Dolphin numbers grow in Odisha’s Chilika lake

Bhubaneswar: Over 450 dolphins have been sighted in the Odisha coast, including 162 in the Chilika lake, indicating a healthy habitat and ample fish availability for the aquatic mammals in the state, a senior official said.

Additional Chief Secretary, Forest and Environment, S C Mohapatra said while 307 dolphins have been sighted in the water bodies of Bhitarkanika National Park and Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary, 162 dolphins have been seen in the Chilika lake.

Divisional Forest Officer of Balugaon, Bikash Ranjan Dash, said the population of dolphins rose by 39 in the Chilika lake in 2018 as compared to that of last year.

The rise in the number of dolphins in the Chilika lake is encouraging, he said adding every year, the census of dolphins indicate a decline or rise between 5 and 7.

“The population rise of the dolphins at Chilika this year has surprised everyone”, he added.

Dash said the dolphin census was conducted in the Chilika lake on January 19 by dividing the entire lake into four categories.

The enumeration was also conducted across six coastal divisions of the state.

The presence of dolphins throughout the year is a boon for tourists with the nature camps at Habeli Khati in Bhitarakanika and Rajhans Nature Camp in Chilika witnessing an encouraging footfall, the official said.

Dolphins frequenting the coasts have enabled tourists and nature-lovers to catch a glimpse of them, he said.

Many dolphins have also been spotted in the coasts of Ganjam and Balasore districts this time, Mohapatra said.

Three varieties of dolphins Irrawady, Humpback and Bottlenose inhabit the waterbodies of the state, with most of them having been spotted in the deltaic regions of Bhitaranika and Gahiramatha.