Chilika Lake – An Abode for Seagrass

chilika-lake-Odisha-seagrass-20%-india
chilika-lake-Odisha-seagrass-20%-india

In News

  • Chilika Lake, the largest coastal lagoon in India has 20% of country’s sea grass distribution.
  • The Chilika development Authority which conducted an annual monitoring of the lake found that over 152 sq. Km of the lake is covered with sea grass.

The Chilika Lake

  • Spread over 1,100 sq. Km area in the state of Odisha, the Chilika is the largest coastal lagoon in the country and the second largest in the world.
  • The lake is located at the mouth of Daya River.
  • It supports diverse species of plants, animals and birds.
  • It is a designated Ramsar Sites under Ramsar Convention.
  • The endangered Irrawaddy Dolphins are found in the lake.

The Annual Monitoring Results

  • During the annual monitoring, the Chilika Development Authority found various species of Seagrass such as Halophila Ovalis, Holodule Pinifolia,Holodule Uninervis, Halophila Beccarii and Halophila Ovata.
  • It was also found that sponges have made their comeback to the lack which were last seen in 1985.
  • Overall, the efforts of the authorities has brought resilience to the ecosystem. The authority found 130-150 Irrawaddy Dolphins thriving in the ecosystem.

Importance of Seagrass

  • In a marine ecosystem, seagrass play a vital role in providing oxygen to the marine species by absorbing carbon dioxide.
  • They also acts as aquatic purifiers.
  • In Chilika lake, the growth of seagrass augurs well for reintroduction of dugongs or seacows which once thrived in the lake.

Where Else can Seagrass Be Found in India?

  • In India, seagrass are found at a shallow depth of 10m due to turbidity of water along the coasts.
  • Seagrass beds are found all across the Indian coast along with Andaman & Nicobar islands and Lakshadweep Islands.
  • The largest seagrass bed in the country is in Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay.
  • Other important locations are the two island archipelagos.

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Threats to Seagrass

1. Natural Threats:

  • Cyclones
  • Waves
  • Intense grazing
  • Infestation of fungi
  • Epiphytes

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2. Anthropogenic Threats:

  • Deforestation of Mangroves
  • Construction activity along the coast
  • Dredging activities
  • Discharge of effluents
  • Sediment discharge

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