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The Chilika Lake

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Uploaded on Mar 21, 2009

The Chilika is the largest lagoon along the east coast of India, situated between latitude 190 28 and 190 54 N and longitude 850 05 and 850 38 E. The lagoon is a unique assemblage of marine, brackish and fresh water eco-system with estuarine characters. It is one of the hotspots of biodiversity and shelters a number of endangered species listed in the IUCN red list of threatened species, and also is a designated Ramsar site. It is an avian grandeur and the wintering ground for more than one million migratory birds. The highly productive lagoon eco-system with its rich fishery resources sustains the livelihood of more than 0.15 million-fisher folk who live in and around the Lagoon. The water spread area of the Lagoon varies between 1165 to 906 sq.km during the monsoon and summer respectively. A 32 km long, narrow, outer channel connects the lagoon to the Bay of Bengal, near the village Motto, recently a new mouth was opened by CDA which has brought a new lease of life to the lagoon.

The total number of fish species are reported to be 225 (Dean and Saaltink, 1991). Along with a variety of phytoplankton, algae and aquatic plants, the Lagoon region also supports over 720 species of non-aquatic plants (CDA). A survey of the fauna of Chilika carried out by the Zoological Survey of India in 1985-87 recorded over 800 species in and around the lagoon. This list includes a number of rare, threatened and endangered species, including the Barakudia limbless skink. On account of its rich bio-diversity, Chilika was designated as a "Ramsar Site", i.e. a wetland of International Importance. The Nalaban Island within the Lagoon is notified as a Bird Sanctuary under Wildlife (Protection) Act, the lagoon is also identified as a priority site for conservation and management by the National Wetland coral reefs Committee of Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India. The Lagoon is a highly productive ecosystem and with its rich fishery resources sustains the livelihood of more than 1,50,000 fisher folk who live in and around the lagoon.

The mouth connecting the channel to the sea is close to the northeastern end of the Lagoon.

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