Chilika Lake Orissa India

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Chilika Lake Orissa

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Location: on the coast of Orissa, 150 km southwest of Cuttack in Ganjam, and Puri districts, Orissa
Area: Maximum area 116,500 ha (monsoon) and 89,100 ha (summer)
Altitute: 0-2 m

Description of site: Chilika Lake is a shallow, brackishwater lagoon separated from the Bay of Bengal by a long, sandy ridge not less than 200 m wide and an interconnecting channel 25 km long. The ridge was developed by the accretion of coastal sediments following the stabilisation of sea levels some 3000-4000 years ago. The Lake, which is the largest brackishwater lagoon in India, is about 64.5 km long (NE-SW) with a width varying from 18.5 km in the northern part to 5 km in the southern sector. Its area has shrunk from about 220,000 ha to its present size. The loss has been estimated at 140 ha per annum. Water depth ranges from 0.9 m-2.6 m in the dry season to 1.8 m-3.7 m in the rainy season. Rivers (mainly Daya and Bhargavi, along with eight others) discharge some 13 million metric tonnes of silt annually into the Lake.

Climatic conditions: Tropical monsoon climate, with a rainy season from July to' October and a dry season from December to June. Maximum temperature is 31 C (March-April) and minimum 22°C (December-January). The annual rainfall is 1200-1600 mm.

Fauna: Chilika Lake supports one of the largest concentrations of migratory waterfowl in India. As recently as the 1960s, the lake was reputed to be a winter resort for millions of ducks and sometimes thousands of geese. Populations have declined considerably in the past two decades, but concentrations are still impressive. Some 151 species of waterfowl of which 97 are intercontinental migrants, belonging to 26 families, hive been recorded here. No comprehensive counts have been made, but partial counts in recent winters have indicated that Chilika remains important for a wide variety of waterfowl.

Many other species of shorebird occur in significant numbers, including painted snipe, little pratincole, lesser golden plover, grey plover, great sand plover, common snipe, Temminck's stint, and ruff. The rare Asiatic dowitcher (Limnodromus semipalmatus) is a regular visitor in small numbers (maximum 41), and the spoon-billed sandpiper has been recorded. Other rare species which have been observed at the lake include the Goliath heron (e.g. one in January 1987). In all, well over 150 species of birds have been recorded in the Sanctuary, including an impressive variety of raptors. At least 160 species of fish, 18 species of reptiles, and 2 species of amphibians along with many commercially valuable species of prawn, shrimp, and crab, have been reported to occur in the lake. The common fish fauna include Hilsa ilisha, Mugil macrolepis, Mystus gulio, Lates calcifer, Gerres setifir, Polynemus tetradactylus, Glossogobius giuris, Cyprinus carpio, Ctenopharyngodon idella, Lates calcifer, Gerres setifer, and Mystus gulio.

The lake supports a very rich benthic fauna, including sponges (7 species), Polycheata (33), Oligochaeta (1), Hirudinae (6), Copepods (58), Cumacea (2), Decapoda (54), Gastropods (34), Lamellibranchiata (45), Polyzoa (3), Isopoda (15), Amphipoda (17), Coelenterate (20), Echiuroides (2), Sienophora (1), Stomatopoda (3), and Nudibranchiata (2). Dugongs (Dugong dugon) are occasionally reported in the lake, but their status is unknown. Other mammals occurring in the Sanctuary include Irrawady dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris), blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), chital/spotted deer (Axis axis), hyaena (Hyaena hyaena), and Jackal (Canis aureus)

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