Annual dolphin census


    In Context 

    The dolphin population along Odisha’s coast and in its water bodies has increased but the number of Irrawaddy dolphins in Chilika lake has fallen according to the Annual dolphin census.

    Major Points 

    • A total of six species of dolphins — Irrawaddy, bottlenose, humpback, striped, finless and spinner dolphins — have been recorded.
    • As per the 2022 dolphin census, Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary and nearby areas in Bhitarkanika saw dolphin count skyrocket to 540 from 342 last year. These included 45  Irrawaddy , 135 bottlenose, 332  humpback, 13 striped and 15 spinner dolphins. 
    • Chilika lake, which is a major tourist attraction for its Irrawaddy dolphins, saw the numbers of its flagship aquatic animal drop sharply from 162 in 2021 to 151 this year.  There has also been a fall in the number of bottlenose dolphins at Chilika, from 26 in 2021 to 16 in 2022.
      • Odisha now has a total of 208 Irrawaddy dolphins.

    About Irrawaddy Dolphins

    • Scientific Name: Orcaella brevirostris
    • Habitat: Irrawaddy dolphins are found in coastal areas in South and Southeast Asia, and in three rivers: the Ayeyarwady (Myanmar), the Mahakam (Indonesian Borneo) and the Mekong. 
      • The Mekong River Irrawaddy dolphins inhabit a 118-mile stretch of the river between Cambodia and Lao PDR.
      • These dolphins have a bulging forehead, short beak, and 12-19 teeth on each side of both jaws.
    • Conservation Status: Irrawaddy dolphins fall under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and are mentioned in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species.

    Chilika Lake

    • It is a brackish water lagoon that is spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha on the east coast of India.
    • It is Asia’s largest salt-water lagoon and is separated from the Bay of Bengal by a sandy ridge.
    • It is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian subcontinent.
    • Chilka Lake is selected as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. 
    • The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands.

    Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary

    • It is a marine wildlife sanctuary located in Odisha.
    • It is the world’s largest nesting beach for Olive Ridley Turtles.
    • It extends from Dhamra River mouth in the north to Brahmani river mouth in the south.
    • Gahirmatha was declared a turtle sanctuary in 1997 by the Odisha after considering its ecological importance and as part of efforts to save the sea turtles.