Kendrapara: The Dolphin population is dwindling in Gahiramatha Marine Sanctuary and nearby areas within Bhitarkanika National Park, according to the latest census carried out on January 19.
This year, forest officials could count only 62 dolphins. The numbers were 126 in 2019 and 307 in 2018.
Deputy Conservator of Forest (Wildlife Management) Pradipta Kumar Sahoo informed that during the one-day census, 60 Irrawaddy and only two Bottle-Nose dolphins were sighted in Gahiramatha. Last year, 14 Irrawaddy, as many Bottle-Nose and 98 Humpback dolphins were counted.
However, the population of Irrawaddy dolphins has increased in Chilika Lake and other water bodies of Odisha. As many as 146 Irrawaddy and 17 Bottle-Nose were sighted in Chilika. Last year, 130 Irrawaddy dolphins were counted in Chilika.
In the water bodies of Puri, two Irrawaddy and five Bottle-Nose dolphins were counted. Similarly in Balasore district, only one Bottle-Nose dolphin was found.
Sahoo said that 259 dolphins were sighted in Odisha last year. But this year, the number fell to 233.
Three months ago, the carcasses of three Irrawaddy dolphins, including a calf, were washed ashore on the beach at Pentha within the sanctuary. Sources said many dolphins die every year off the coast after being caught in trawler and other nets, the major reason of the decline.
Forest officials had conducted the first dolphin census in Gahiramatha in 2015. As many as 270 dolphins including 58 Irrawaddy, 23 Bottle-Nose, 123 Sousa Chinensis, 50 Sousa Plumbera, 15 pantropical spotted and one Finless porpoise were counted in Gahiramatha during the census. In 2016 and 2017, the census could not be carried out due to bad weather.