BHUBANESWAR: Asia ’s largest brackish water lagoon Chilika is now home to 22 per cent of India’s seagrass area, revealed the fourth flora and fauna survey on Friday. The survey conducted by the Chilika Development Authority (CDA) to assess the biodiversity of the lagoon eco-system has found that the area of seagrass has increased by 3 km in a year. Seagrass plays a major role in oxygen production and absorption of carbon dioxide and acts as a purifier in aquatic ecology, “The distribution of seagrass has been estimated over an area of 155 sq km, against last year’s 152 sq km.
The growth in seagrass area in Chilika, at a time when it is on a declining trend worldwide, is a positive sign as it would help in strengthening the biodiversity and marine ecosystem of the lake further,” said CDA Chief Executive Susanta Nanda.
He said that five species of sea grass such as Holodule uninervis, Holodule pinifolia, Halophila ovalis, Halophila ovata and Holaphia beccarii were found in the lake during the survey. Removal of illegal gheris in the recent years have helped immensely in restoring the ecosystem of the Ramsar site, Nanda said. Around 156 Irrawaddy dolphins, protected under Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, have been spotted in the lake in 2020. Besides, the annual bird census carried out in the lagoon on January 5, has pegged the total number of migratory birds at around 1.2 million.
There has also been a sudden increase in the population of open water diving ducks in the lagoon in the current season, particularly in the areas where prawn gheris were evicted in the last two to three years. The CDA officials informed that a few net gherries have been reconstructed in smaller areas during this pandemic.
The district administrations concerned will be intimated about their locations for necessary action, they said. The survey was carried out by the CDA with the help of 17 teams comprising around 100 personnel. The highly productive ecosystem of the lake with its rich fishery resources currently sustains the livelihood of over 2 lakh fishermen who live in and around the lake.