Everything You Need to Know About Irrawaddy Dolphins of Chilka Lake, Orissa
Remember your childhood fantasies? Wasn’t watching dolphins flipping to and fro in the water, one of your dream fantasies from your childhood? Well, watching a dolphin show was one of my childhood fantasies and I am still eagerly waiting to have just a glimpse of them! Well, if you too have fantasized a lot about dolphins and still haven’t got a chance to see them, here’s your golden chance! The eastern coast of India is blessed with the part marine, part brackish and part freshwater lagoon called as Chilka Lake. It is the largest coastal lake in India and the second largest coastal lake in the world. Spread over Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha, this lake is dotted with islands, making it a hot spot for bird watching and fishing. With saline water from the Bay of Bengal and fresh water from the inland rivers, the lake supports rich biodiversity, including some rare, endangered and vulnerable species like the Irrawaddy Dolphin. How Does an Irrawaddy Dolphin look Like! Irrawaddy Dolphins are generally categorised as slow-moving species of Dolphins. Their physical appearance is similar to the beluga whale while they are genetically similar to the killer whale species. These dolphins vary from grey to dark blue colour with a light-coloured stomach and front.
Picture Courtesy: DD NewsFurther, these Dolphins have a Dorsal Fin which is rounded and located around the middle of its back. The dorsal fin provides stability to the dolphin’s body. They hold their breath as they go in the water and breathe out when it reaches the water surface through Blowhole. It is the hole at the top of the dolphin’s head which helps them in breathing and to produce a variety of noises used to communicate. These sounds are projected by the dolphin’s melon which is the large and fatty forehead. The melon projects the sounds, which rebound, or echo, off other things and animals. The long nose of the dolphin is called a rostrum. Do you know according to Chilika Development Authority (CDA), the Chilika lake in Orissa is now the single largest habitat of Irrawaddy dolphins in the world with 155 such species in the count? And, so hopes are high for eco-tourism as these dolphins have started to appear where at first, they were not present. The reports have also seen a remarkable improvement in the levels of the seagrass bed from 86 sq km in 2016 to 135 sq km now indicating an improved hydrological condition of the lake. In an effort to revive the lake just like the old times, the use of zero nets for fishing has also been reduced significantly. However, they still pose threats to the eco-system of the lake as they increase siltation. But constant efforts are been done including promotion of responsible fishing to reduce siltation. How You Can Spot These Rare Irrawaddy Dolphins? Are you someone who enjoy boat rides? If your answer is yes then you are all sorted! Just take a the OTDC (Orissa Tourism Development Corporation) boat on rent and explore the glittering lake on a 3 to 4-hour ride. Here, get a chance to spot Irrawaddy Dolphins and a lot of migratory birds. How To Reach Chilka Lake? The closest airport is the Bhubaneshwar airport. The nearest railway station is Balugaon. You can hire an auto/rickshaw to reach Barkul and Rambha and from these points, you can easily hire boats to visit Satapada or the islands. Best Time To Visit Chilka Lake Summers are very harsh in Orissa. Avoid planning a trip in hot weather here. Mid-November to February is an ideal time to visit Chilika Lake. Lastly, a big thank you to all my readers who have been a part of my journey through my blog posts about North-East India. Thank you for being patient every time I share that I am soon coming up with my travel book- Early Sunrise Early Sunset. My book covers all my travel experiences and unknown facts about north-east India. Its new year 2019 already which reminds me wishing all my lovely readers a very Happy New Year. I am further glad to announce that the book is all set to launch in the market and hope to share the dates with you all soon! fingers crossed!