Chilika Lake - Odisha

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Jun 1, 2022, 10:06

Chilika Lake exudes undeniable scenic beauty. But the attraction of this lake is not limited to its visual splendour. Chilika is among the biggest lakes in India. This waterbody on the east coast of India has an estuarine character. It is a hotspot for biodiversity. The lake serves as a habitat for several threatened species of animals and plants.

Let's take a look at some of the interesting aspects of Chilika Lake.

Significance of Chilika Lake

Located in the state of Odisha, Chilika Lake spreads over the districts of Puri, Ganjam, and Khurda. It is among the largest brackish water lagoons globally and the largest one in Asia. This salty water lake is situated at the mouth of the Daya River and flows into the Bay of Bengal.

The waterbody is the largest coastal lagoon in the country. Every year it turns into a haven for migratory birds during the winter season.

The lake is also a flourishing ecosystem and is rich in fishery resources. Chilika supports the livelihood of more than 150000 people spread across 132 villages near the waterbody associated with the fishing industry in some way or the other.

So, this natural saltwater lake in India plays a significant role in the lives of birds, animals, plants, and human beings.

The Attraction of Chilika Lake for Migratory Birds

Chilika Lake is the biggest wintering ground in India for migratory birds. More than one million migratory shorebirds and waterfowl winter here.

The lake hosts more than 160 avian species during the peak migratory season. Many of these birds come from far-off places, such as the Aral Sea, Lake Baikal, Caspian Sea, and other far-flung areas of Kazakhstan, Russia, Himalayas, Ladakh, Southeast and Central Asia. Some of these birds even fly 12000 km to reach this lake in eastern India.

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Chilika Lake - Facts and Features

  • Chilika Lake was selected as the first Indian wetland of international significance in 1981. It was under the Ramsar Convention.
  • As per geological evidence, Chilika was once a part of the Bay of Bengal.
  • Chilika is home to around 37 amphibians and reptiles and 14 types of raptors.
  • The lake is the only place in India where the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins exist.
  • Chilika is one of the only two lagoons in the world where Irrawaddy dolphins are found.
  • The lake's brackish water serves as a flourishing ground for marine seaweeds, fish, crab, microalgae, and seagrasses.
  • Chilika Lake has been included in the tentative UNESCO World Heritage sites list.
  • This waterbody is divided into four different zones: the central, northern, and southern sectors and the outer channel area.
  • The lake is spread across an area of about 1100 sq. km.
  • Chilika Lake is a major tourist attraction in Odisha.
  • Nalbana Bird Sanctuary, located on the Nalbana Island of Chilika Lake, supports many avian species.
  • Due to strong winds, a boat ferrying 12 people sank in Chilika Lake on 5 May 2022.
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Threats to Chilika Lake

The ecosystem of the lake faces several threats and problems, such as:

  • Reduction of water surface area.
  • Reduction in water salinity and decline in fishery resources.
  • Sedimentation due to inland river systems and siltation from upstream.
  • An explosion of freshwater invasive species.
  • Loss of biodiversity.
  • The speedy expansion of aquaculture of prawns at a commercial level.

Chilika Lake is a natural habitat for several animals, plants, birds, and reptiles. It supports rich biodiversity. The lake also sustains the livelihood of a large number of humans. It is important to protect this lake and prevent the threats from destroying its ecosystem.

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FAQs on Chilika Lake

Q.1 What Is the Maximum Depth of Chilika Lake?

The maximum depth of Chilika Lake is 13.8 ft.

Q.2 What Is the Shape of Chilika Lake?

Chilika Lake has a vague pear shape, located in the state of Odisha.

Q.3 Which Rivers Flow Into Chilika Lake?

Chilika Lake has 52 streams, including Daya, Luna, Bhargavi, and Makra rivers.

Q.4 What Are Some Rare Species Found in Chilika Lake?

Some rare and threatened species in Chilika Lake are the green sea turtle, Irrawaddy dolphin, dugong, blackbuck, and fishing cat.