Bhubaneswar: After five year break, annual headcount exercise of dolphin species inhabiting along the brackish water bodies in Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary & Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary will get underway on January 19, said forest officials on Monday.
A status survey of these marine animals is vital for the study of growth pattern of species living within the brackish water bodies and shallow sea waters of this Ramsar international wetland site, they said. The last census of these aquatic animals was conducted in 2015 and the enumerators had sighted 270 dolphins in the sea and deltaic zones.
Bhitarkanika and Gahirmatha water bodies are home to 58 Irrawaddy dolphins, 23 Bottlenose dolphins, 123 Sousa Chinensis, 50 Sousa Plumbera dolphins, 15 pan tropical spotted dolphins and one Finless porpoise as per the last census findings.
Because of inclement weather ad rough sea, headcount of dolphins could not be undertaken since past five years. Hopefully, census will take place unhindered this time, said Bikash Ranjan Dash, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division.
Nine teams comprising about 40 wildlife experts will conduct the head count of these mammals. . Each team was equipped with binoculars, GPS set, rangefinder and data recording sheets for foolproof headcount of these species.
The enumerators have spotted the Dolphins frequently leaping above the water surface during turtle conservation patrolling operation. It’s always breathtaking visual treat to watch. The sighting is quite impressive this year, said forest officials.
The enumerators will cover the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary, Dhamara coast, estuaries in Bhitarkanika, Hukitola, Paradip and Kujang coast. The enumerators travelled by water to cover salt-water creeks in outer wheelers’, Chinchini river mouth, Barunei river mouth, Jatadhari river mouth, Devi river mouth, Dhamra, Kajalapatia, Nalitapatia, Khola, Kalibhanjadiha, Jamboo, Kharinasi, Hukitola brackish water bodies, they said.