Wildlife Protection Current Affairs

181 Irrawaddy dolphins counted in Odisha census

According to new census carried out by the Odisha State Forest and Environment department in 2016, as many as 181 Irrawaddy dolphins have been sighted in the state.

This marks a significant drop from 2015 survey which had recorded 450 dolphins. The 2016 dolphin census in Odisha reported Humpback dolphins (34), bottlenose dolphins (31) and five pantropical spotted dolphins.

Key Facts
  • The Chilika Lake, the largest brackish water lagoon of the country recorded a marginal drop in the population of Irrawaddy dolphins from 144 in 2015 to 134 in 2016.
  • About 55 dolphins were sighted this year in Bhitarakanika, compared to 58 spotted in 2015. In the Bhadrak Wildlife Sanctuary jurisdiction, only five Irrawady dolphins were sighted.
  • Endangered Irrawaddies are found in three places, humpback and bottlenose dolphins are not distributed uniformly in the State.
  • According to state Forest department, sighting of dolphins depended on the weather condition of the day the census was carried out. Migration of dolphins also continuously takes place in waters close to the coast.

About Irrawaddy Dolphin

  • Irrawaddy Dolphin is not a true river dolphin, but an oceanic dolphin that lives in brackish water near coasts, river mouths and in estuaries in South and Southeast Asia.
  • It is slaty blue to slaty gray throughout, with the underparts slightly paler. It is identified by a bulging forehead, a short beak.
  • It has established subpopulations in freshwater rivers, including the Ganges and the Mekong, as well as the Irrawaddy River from which it takes its name.
  • Its habitat range extends from the Bay of Bengal to New Guinea and the Philippines. They do not appear to venture off shore.
  • Protection Status: IUNC has classified it as Vulnerable in Red Data list.
  • Threats: fishing nets, developmental projects like construction of dams, tourism and diseases.

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Hope Island becomes graveyard for Olive Ridleys Turtles

Hope Island in Andhra Pradesh has become graveyard for Olive Ridleys turtles after 54 carcasses of this species were spotted on the shores of island.

This indicates that the breeding cycle of this species got severe blow due to mechanised fishing boats scouring in the Bay of Bengal coastline. These boats crush most of these turtles under it leading to their death.

The Fisheries Department is encouraging the mechanised boat owners to fit a Turtle Excluder Device (TED) to their trawl nets to allow thee turtles to pass. 

About Olive Ridley

  • Olive Ridley turtle is the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtle found in the world. It gets its name from its olive coloured carapace, which is heart-shaped and rounded.
  • It is found in warm waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans. It spends entire lives in the ocean and migrates thousands of kilometers between feeding and mating grounds in the course of a year.
  • Though found in abundance, their numbers have been declining over the past few years. It is recognized as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red list. In India, it is protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act.
  • Breeding Season: It commences its journey from Indian Ocean towards Bay of Bengal during their mating season in October and November every year.
  • A single female can lay upto 100 to 150 eggs in a pit dug on the beaches. Six weeks later these eggs hatches and the newly hatched turtles start the journey to their Indian Ocean habitat.
  • The destination for majority of the turtles for laying egg is Gahirmatha in Odisha. The sandy stretches of Hope Island of the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary also have turned into a breeding area.

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