Susanta Nanda, chief executive of Chilika Development Authority (CDA), said the sighting of dolphin in Palur c…Read More
BHUBANESWAR: Irrawaddy dolphins were sighted in Palur canal in Ganjam district after a few decades. This canal connects Chilika lake with Rushikulya river mouth off Ganjam coast. This new development have brought cheer among wildlife activists and local people.
Susanta Nanda, chief executive of Chilika Development Authority (CDA), said the sighting of dolphin in Palur canal might be due to clearance of Khanda and gherries (illegal pen culture) in upstream of the canal in Chilika lagoon, increase of water level and abundance of food that helps the harbouring of dolphin.
“Removal of 167 square km of encroachment in the lagoon in last three years are having significant positive impact like increase in sea grass cover, re-appearance of sponge etc. But this sighting was something dramatic. Colonising new areas is the hope of our flagship species,” said Nanda.
The government official also said that he did not find any record about movement of this aquatic mammal in the canal last time. “This is a good sign that dolphins are entering new areas. During our dolphin census in Chilika lake in January, we had recorded moving of dolphins towards new areas in central and southern sector near Kalijai island and Rambha areas after removal of illegal prawn gherries,” he added.
Wildlife activist Biswajit Mohanty said the dolphins might have entered into Palur canal after clearance of encroachment from the canal and at the entry point of the canal. “As the canal connects Chilika and sea, different species of fish are moving in the canal now. Dolphins are entering into the canals chasing the fishes. As the canal is a small area, it is very easy for these aquatic mammals to get their prey,” he added.
He said the canal was encroached by gherries before the government carried out dredging work in the canal in 2005-06. “After dredging, the canal became deep and got heavy inflow of water allowing fish and prawns into it,” he added.
Sudarshan Chhotaray, 49, a local of Niladripur in Ganjam district and wildlife lover, said they did not see movement of dolphin in the canal earlier. “Clearing of illegal pen culture in Chilika and entry of the canal and less human activity during lockdown have made this possible,” he added.
During the annual dolphin census in January this year, the forest department staff and experts had found these aquatic mammals at Magarmukh, Jahnikuda, Mahisa, Rajhans, Nalabana, Kalijugeswar, Malatikuda, Pathara, Samal Island, Kalijai Island, INS Chilika, Krishnaprasad Gada Jetty and Satapada Jetty in Chilika lagoon.
As many as 156 dolphins were sighted in the brackish water lagoon Chilika in January census. The number had decreased to 113 in the lagoon last year against 162 dolphins in 2018.