Lake Chilika is a brakish water lagoon in Asia, located on the east coast of India, at the mouth of the Daya River, which flows into the Bay of Bengal and covers an area of 1.100 km². The width varies between 5 and 18 km, with a length is 64,5 km. 52 tributaries feed the lake with water from the catchment area. The gradual transition from freshwater to saltwater leads to the coexistence of four different ecosystems and the development of a unique biodiversity for lakes. The four ecosystems differ in depth and salinity: southern zone (high salinity), central zone (maximum depth 3,7 m), northern zone (depth less than 50 cm) and outer channel (depth 20 cm).
What makes it special
Lake Chilika is the largest brackish water lagoon in Asia and the second largest coastal lagoon in the world. The unusual hydrological diversity gives Lake Chilika the characteristics of a lake, estuary and lagoon.
· Ramsar Site 229, Wetland of International Importance
· Wildlife Sanctuary – Chilika (Nalaban)
Lake Chilika is the largest bird wintering area on the Indian subcontinent, with 225 bird species. Migratory birds come from the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, the Aral Sea, from Central and Southeast Asia. According to a survey, 45 percent of the birds are terrestrial in nature, 32 percent are waterfowl, and 23 percent are waders. The lagoon is also home to 14 types of raptors. Still, around 150 individuals of the highly endangered Irrawaddy dolphins live here. The lagoon is hoe for about 37 species of reptiles and amphibians.
The lake is an ecosystem with large fishery resources. It sustains more than 150.000 fisher–folk living in 132 villages on the shore and islands.
Pesticides and fertilisers from the cultivated areas around the lake affect the water quality. On the west side of the lake there are wooded areas whose use and deforestation leads to sediment input into the lake.