Chilika Lake in Odisha houses a rich variety of birds and grasslands that makes this lagoon a top-notch tourist destination in the Puri district. Though the lake is known for bird watching, its biggest draw lies in Irrawaddy and bottlenose dolphins that migrate here during winters.
Flowing into the Bay of Bengal, Chilika Lake is the largest saline water lagoon in India. During the months from January to March, the lake is noted for thousands of migratory birds that flock here during winters.
Chilika is also home to the only known population of Irrawaddy dolphins in India, which are classified as vulnerable in five of the six other places they are known to live in.
Along with the Irrawaddy dolphins, bottlenose dolphins also migrate into the lagoon from the sea. According to the fishermen, when Irrawaddy dolphins and bottlenose dolphins meet in the outer channel, the Irrawaddy dolphins get frightened and are forced to return towards the lake.
Dolphin tourism provides an important alternative source of income for many local residents, whose living is otherwise sustained by the large fishery resources in the lake.