Kendrapara, Feb 16 (LocalWire) More dolphins have been spotted at Gahiramatha marine sanctuary within Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara district than Chilika Lake, the largest brackish water lagoon of the country.
During the recent census, 126 dolphins were found at Gahiramatha, which is 13 more than Chilika Lake, where forest officials counted 113 dolphins.
Water bodies in Odisha has recorded a drastic drop in the population of dolphins from 469 in 2018 to 259 in 2019 so far.
“In Gahiramatha marine sanctuary, we sighted 14 Irrawaddy dolphins , 14 bottle nose dolphins and 98 Humpback dolphins this year during the one-day long census on Jan 19, carried out by the State Forest and Environment department,” said Deputy Conservator of Forest (Wildlife Management) Pradipta Kumar Sahoo.
“Three Irrawaddy dolphins and two Bottle Nose dolphins were sighted in Balasore district. As many as 15 Humpback dolphins were sighted at Rushukulya river mouth in Ganjam district,” he said.
Reduction in the number of dolphins compared to last year could be due to migration of species from Chilika lake and other water bodies to the deep sea, said former wildlife researcher of Odisha forest department Lala Aswini Kumar Singh.
“Climate change and bad weather may also be the reasons for the dolphins to migrate towards deep sea. Death is not behind the declining numbers as very few carcasses have been washed ashore,” said Singh.
The census report revealed that population of dolphins has alarmingly decreased in Gahiramatha water bodies as well. Forest officials counted 126 dolphins recently, whereas307 dolphins were found in 2018.
Bhitarkanika Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Bimal Prasan Acharya said: “Forest officials conduct dolphin census from only one kilometer from the coast for which it is not possible for us to count dolphins in deep sea. We sighted less dolphins in Gahiramatha due to deep fog and bad weather on the census day.”
“Many dolphins die each year off the Odisha coast being mistakenly caught in trawling and other nets. Many studies have proven the high intelligence of dolphins. So it is clear that these mammals are aware of this danger, but are left with little choice due to their need to search for food around the trawlers or boats,” said Biswajit Mohanty a noted environmentalist and secretary of Odisha Wildlife Society.
“Around 250 private boats operating in the Chilika Lake make lot of noise. Dolphins being slow-moving are prone to injuries in collisions with propellers of the boats.
Many tourists interfere in social activities of dolphins like mating and feeding in Chilika Lake as a result many dolphins also migrate to other areas,” added Mohanty.