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Thread: In the 1st Dolphin Census in Orissa Six Species Spotted

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    Default In the 1st Dolphin Census in Orissa Six Species Spotted

    In the 1st Dolphin Census in Orissa Six Species Spotted
    16th February 2015 06:00 AM

    BHUBANESWAR: In the first ever dolphin census carried out by the Wildlife Wing of Odisha along the coast, interesting results are seen with surveying teams sighting several species of the cetaceans during the day-long enumeration on Sunday.

    The census was done in coastal forest divisions including Balasore, Bhadrak, Bhitarkanika, Puri, Chilika and Berhampur.

    In Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary and off the coast, where such an exercise was carried out for the first time, at least six species of dolphins were sighted.

    Earlier, Chilika was the only coastal eco-system where dolphin census was carried out on an annual basis. However, earlier last month, the Wildlife Wing decided to make an effort to identify pockets of dolphin habitats not only in the coastal eco-systems but also along the shoreline.
    Bhitarkanika, a habitat known for estuarine crocodiles, birds and Olive Ridley turtles, is reported to have six species much to the delight of naturalists. Those comprised Bottlenose, two species of Humpback, Pan Tropical Spotted, Irrawaddy as well as Finless Porpoises.

    At least nine teams comprising 31 enumerators were pressed for the census work in the sanctuary. While five teams conducted the census in coastal regions, four were pressed in the creeks. In Mahakalpada zone, there was zero sighting of the cetaceans.

    Chilika, the home of Irrawaddy dolphins, saw the entire lagoon covered for the census for the first time. The Chilika Wildlife Division pressed 18 teams comprising 90 members across the lagoon for the census.

    Official sources said concentrated efforts were made to map the dolphin habitats in Chilika and Bhitarkanika while in other divisions, it is a start so that census work can be strengthened in the years to come. Line transect direct sighting method was used for the census.

    The Wildlife Wing will compile all the data for analysis. A composite census report for the six divisions would be brought out in a day or two. Twelve different species of dolphins are reported from Odisha coast.
    Regards,
    Mrudul Godbole

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    Good to hear that the survey was conducted in several parts of Odisha. I remember when I first photographed a dolphin in Chilika in 1995, people were surprised and didn't believe that it is from Chilika. The enlarged scope of the dolphin should help in increasing the awareness levels among people and bring attention to this much maligned species. Their habitat is invaded by us all the time with noisy motorboats. Think how we would feel if someone uses a drilling machine close to your ear. And then think how you will talk with someone in such a situation. You have to raise your voice over and above that sound to make yourself heard. That is what happens with the dolphins as well. They get really stressed by all the anthropogenic noise. These thoughts were flashing across my mind last month, when we were watching the dolphins in Sundarbans.

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    Good to see these surveys happening. However, there have been grossly varying reports from different newspapers, and some accounts do seem far fetched, at least without the details. Waiting to see the official report soon. No doubt however that these efforts will bear fruit. This is one realm of wildlife that desperately needs attention in the country.

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    With what has been happening to wildlife of Orissa in last 10 years, an endeavor taken by Orissa Forest department may have it's own share of question marks, unless some dedicated individuals or worthy NGOs are also involved. Nevertheless, it's a good start.

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