Irrawaddy dolphin is an oceanic dolphin that lives in brackish water near the coasts or mouths of the rivers and even in the estuaries in South and Southeast Asia. They are characterised by slaty blue to slaty gray colour while the underparts are relatively pale. It has a typical bulging forehead and short beak. They have established their sub-populations in freshwater rivers which include Ganges and also the Mekong. Thus, its habitat extends from the Bay of Bengal to New Guinea and the Philippines. These are labelled as “Vulnerable” in the Red Data List. Their numbers are threatened by various developmental projects like construction of dams, tourism and diseases.
The latest census by the Odisha State Forest and Environment department 2016:
- 181 Irrawaddy dolphins have been spotted in state as against a total of 450 in 2015.
- The latest Census showed 34 Humpback dolphins, 31 bottlenose dolphins and 5 pantropical dolphins.
- The Chilka Lake, which is the largest brackish water lagoon in the country has recorded a major drop in their population from 144 to 134 over one year.