Minimize Chilika Lake and Nalabana Bird Sanctuary

The Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on the Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured this image of Nalabana bird sanctuary on 14 December 2013. While parts of the island are visible, much of it was under water. The brown areas in the lower part of the image are farms and villages. A dock, used for fishing boats and tourist ferries, is also visible.

Chilika Lake is the largest lagoon in India and one of the largest in the world. The interplay between fresh water-draining into the shallow lake from rivers to the north and west-and salty tidal water-encroaching from the Bay of Bengal to the south-gives Chilika's waters a brackish quality, with salinity varying significantly throughout the lake. These variations open up a range of ecological niches and promote a rich diversity of species.

Located in southeastern India, Chilika is best known as a mecca for birds, which are attracted by the hundreds of species of fish and other aquatic life. During peak migratory season, the lake hosts more than one million birds from more than 200 species. About half of the birds are migratory species that arrive from distant parts of Asia, including the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, and Siberia.

In 1987, Indian authorities declared Nalabana Island a bird sanctuary. During and just after the rainy season, lake levels increase enough to completely inundate the low-lying island. During other seasons, falling water levels expose extensive mudflats that are ideal habit for wading birds such as flamingoes, herons, spoonbills, storks, and pelicans.

View the full resolution image.

Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

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