Mumbai On the eve of World Environment Day, the State Forestry Department’s Mangrove Foundation has announced its decision to conduct the first-ever population estimate of dolphins in the coastal waters of the Mumbai metropolitan area. .
A recent pilot study by the Coastal Conservation Foundation (CCF) in the Backbay area of South Mumbai resulted in 27 sightings of Indian Ocean humpback dolphins, prompting the state to conduct a detailed study on the entire MMR coast of 150 kilometers.
Dolphins are an endangered cetacean species and are protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. The largest group encountered during the CCF pilot study in Mumbai included six individuals. The study was conducted between Haji Ali Bay and Raj Bhavan and in the Back Bay, between April 14 and May 11, 2022. About 15 sightings among these were in groups including juveniles and sub-adults.
“While the dolphins in this area have already been documented and photographed, this study has given us the opportunity to understand how they respond to environmental and human-induced factors in the area. Through this pilot study, it is too early to find out how many dolphins there are and how this area is regularly used by juveniles, sub-adults and adults,” said CCF Founder Shaunak Modi.
Modi’s team also collected environmental data such as depth, temperature, salinity, turbidity and tidal flow; and anthropogenic data such as the presence of fishing activities, whenever a pod or dolphin has been sighted. Fin photographs were taken where possible for use in creating a fin catalog that could serve as the basis for future long-term population studies.
Virendra Tiwari, the other senior chief conservator of forests (mangrove cell), said: “There have been stray sightings of dolphins reported along the coast of Mumbai from Manori, Versova creek areas to at Nariman Point, Marine Drive and towards Alibaug. for quite some time now. However, no population estimates or habitat use analyzes have been carried out before. The study will begin after the monsoon through the MMR These dolphins are also biological indicators and their behavior and the environmental conditions in which they survive will also reveal more details about the climate impacts they are exposed to and the interventions we can put in place.