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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Dolphin numbers climb

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 21: The number of the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins in the Chilika, Asia’s largest brackish water lake situated in Odisha, has gone up.

Officials counted 152 dolphins, including 118 adults, during a four-day exercise that concluded on January 19, an increase of 4.6 per cent from last year’s estimate of 145.

These human-friendly mammals are among the biggest attractions of the lake which draws thousands of tourists to its shores every year.

Chief executive of Chilika Development Authority A.K. Patnaik said while 74 dolphins were counted in the outer channel of the lake, 35 each were sighted in its central and southern sectors. In the northern sector of Chilika, only eight of these could be spotted by enumerators, who began the exercise on January 7, but had to suspend it a day later owing to poor visibility. The counting was taken up again on January 18.

The total population of these animals across the world is estimated to be around 7,500.

The Chilika Development Authority has initiated many conservation measures for the protection and conservation of the lake’s dolphins in close coordination with wildlife wing of state forest department.

These include survey and identification of dolphin habitats in the lagoon for proper management, development of dolphin-watching protocol to save them from unnecessary harassment by tourist boats, widening and deepening of Magarmukh channel for free movement of the mammals and acoustic survey of their underwater behaviour.