Kendrapara, Jan 13(LocalWire): The forest department will conduct dolphin census on January 19 in the water bodies of Gahiramatha marine sanctuary within Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara district and its nearby areas.
“In 2015 the dolphin census in Gahiramatha was conducted for the first time by the forest department. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the forest department had cancelled the census of dolphins due to bad weather.
In 2015, we had counted 270 dolphins in the water bodies of Bhitarkanika National Park and its adjoining Gahiramath marine sanctuary during the first ever dolphin census.
We had sighted 58 Irrawaddy dolphins, 23 Bottlenose dolphins, 123 Sousa Chinensis, 50 Sousa Plumbera dolphins, 15 pan tropical spotted dolphins and one Finless porpoise.
We have formed nine teams to conduct dolphin census on the 19th January,” said Bikash Ranjan Dash the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of the Bhitarkanika National Park.
The 2015 dolphin census report revealed that Bhitarkanika was the home of state’s largest population of dolphin. The census report also pointed out that the Chilika Lake was the abode of only 144 Irrawaddy dolphins. More dolphins were found in Gahiramatha due to its bigger areas, added the forest officer.
In 2019, we counted 126 dolphins in the water bodies of the Gahiramatha marine sanctuary. The sighting of dolphins depended on the weather condition of the day on which the census was carried out. The reduction of the number of dolphins in 2019 compared in 2015 due to bad weather and deep fog on the census day, added the forest officer.
The Gahiramatha was declared a marine sanctuary in 1997 by the state government to protect the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles, which are mostly found on Gaharamatha Beach, the world’s largest rookery of sea turtles.
“The state government imposes a ban order on fishing activities inside the Gahirmatha from 1st November to 31st May to protect turtles every year.
The annual seven-month-long fishing ban also greatly helps in the increase of the population of dolphin in Gahiramatha.
The dolphins are commonly sighted marine creatures in the water bodies in Khola, Nalitapata, Dhamara of Bhitarkanika, and in the sea near Satabhaya, Pentha, Agaranashi, Eakakula, Hukitola and other areas within the Gahiramatha marine sanctuary,” said the forest officer.
It may be noted that 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), in Appendix II of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and categorized as Endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.