3-Day Annual Dolphin Census Begins In Odisha

Bhubaneswar: The three-day annual dolphin census in the water bodies of Chilika and Gahirmatha in Odisha began at 6 am on Wednesday.

According to sources, the State Forest and Environment Department has formed 27 teams equipped with binoculars, GPS handsets, cameras/handycams to conduct the headcount exercise, which will continue till December 23.

At least eight teams from Satpada and 10 from Balugaon have been deployed in Chilika. Likewise, nine teams have been engaged for the counting in Gahirmatha.

Local volunteers and members of Motor Boat Association are also involved in the annual exercise which will be carried out for three days. Boat ferrying in the lake has been prohibited till 2 pm on Wednesday, added sources.

“The census exercise in Chilika started in 2015. We could know the numbers and types of dolphins living in Chilka from the exercise. The Forest Division has also organised awareness meetings about dolphins this year which is a welcome step,” environmentalist Biraja Pati told local media.

It is pertinent to mention here that the recent annual dolphin census report, released on March 30, stated that the population had increased from 544 in 2021 to 726 this year. Gahirmatha reported higher numbers as compared to Chilika.

As per the 2022 dolphin census, Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary and nearby areas in Bhitarkanika saw the dolphin count skyrocket to 540 from 342 last year and included 45 Irrawaddy, 135 bottlenose, 332  humpback, 13 striped, and 15 spinner dolphins.

Previously in the 2021 census, forest officials sighted 39 Irrawaddy, 22 bottlenose, and 281 humpback dolphins.

The count of dolphins in Chilika Wildlife Division dipped to 167 in 2022 from 188 in 2021.

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