Pulicat Lake and Bird Santuary – Madras (Chennai)

Pulicat book Cover page Pulicat book Cover page


Pulicat Lake is the second largest brackish water lake in India ( Brackishwater has a salt content (salinity) via media, between freshwater and sea water. Estuaries (river-mouths) and lagoons (bays or backwaters) usually have brackishwater. Brackishwater in such ecosystems is said to be highly productive biologically, more productive than fresh or sea water. Over and above this, tropical brackishwaters are more productive than temperate brackishwaters.)

It is very shallow lake (around1 meter depth, less than 3.5 meet!), and therefore a very large boon for migratory birds. A total of 168 different fish species have been identified in the lake.

Every year approximately 15,000 Greater Flamingos are reported to visit the lake along with pelicans, kingfishers, herons, painted storks, spoonbills and ducks. The highest concentrations of flamingo are found in the periphery of the lagoon where the water level is below40 centimetres (16 in). The concentrations of flamingos are also associated with high algal, fish and benthic diversity. Other water birds in the area include Spot-billed Pelican, seven species of herons and egrets, Painted Stork, Greater Flamingos, ducks, 20 species of shorebirds, gulls, terns, Little Grebe, Indian Cormorant, Little Cormorant, Asian Openbill Stork, Black-headed Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Lesser Whistling Teal, Spotbill Duck, Great Thick-knee and Stone Curlew.

Several species of wintering waterfowl have been noted including Bar-headed Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Common Teal, Northern Pintail, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Common Pochard, Brown-headed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Whiskered Tern, Gull-billed Tern and Caspian Tern Birds of prey which appear in winter are the: White-bellied Sea Eagle, Osprey, Harriers and Peregrine Falcons.

It is close to Chennai (Madras), and also Andhra Pradesh

the lake is around 350 Sq.km. only. 84% of the lake is in Andhra Pradesh and the remaining 16% is in Tamil Nadu. This lake is divided from the sea by a spindle shaped island Sriharikota where the Satish Dhawan space centre is located. Three rivers namely Arni, Kalangi and the Swarnamukhi flow into the Pulicat lake at different points. At present the mouth of Swarnamukhi on the north, is fully silted up. River Kalangi meets on the North West and the Arni meets the lake on the South. The lake contains two inhabitated islands on the northern side namely Venaadu and Irukkam.


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