Batticaloa Lagoon, the largest features extensive mangrove swamps and some sea grass beds that attract a wide variety of water birds. Batticaloa is flourished with three of them, they are Batticaloa , Valaichchenai and Vakari Lagoons. Batticaloa district covers an area of 2600 square kilometer, of which around 170 square kilometer are lagoon and internal fresh water, and reservoirs. The mangrove flora along the lagoon covers a range of 1550 hectares, and also is linked with the widespread lagoon system of about 11,500 hectares. The determined depth of the lagoon is averaged to be around 5 meters. Batticaloa Lagoon is the largest in eastern Sri lanka. The other lagoons in the district are the Upparu lagoon and the Valaichenai lagoon.
Being one of the main brackish water bodies of Sri Lanka, Batticaloa lagoon extends from Kittangi in Ampara to Pankudaweli of Batticaloa north. The width of the water flow at their openings varies with the seasons. During the dry season the width of the bar mouth decreases and gradually it get closed with the onset of the north east monsoon which piles up the sand bar by the end of dry season.
During the rainy season lagoon keeps its flow with the open oceanic eco system and during the dry season the bar opening is closed by buildup of sand due to wave action. The entire east coast is situated within the dry zone of the country, which has a pleasant hot and humid tropical weather. The temperature ranges from 18º C on rainy seasons (night), to 38º C during the mid-day of summer. The district usually has a dry spell of four months. But recent years has seen a shift in rainfall patterns and rise in sporadic showers and floods. This may be a result of the global warming consequence or indication of major climate changes.
Batticaloa lagoon fishing
Few seasonal small streams drain water into the Batticaloa lagoon, Magalavattvan Aru, Munthaani Aru, Vettu Aru, and Pathathopu Aru, are some of them. Great volume of water also drains from Galoya scheme. The quality of lagoon water depends mostly on the quantity of freshwater entry in to the lagoon.
The canoe made using timber or enforced plastic are the company used craft for fishing in the Lagoon, and the Cast net is the fishing gear used in the lagoon. Around 12,000 full time fishermen depend on lagoon for their living in Batticaloa District.
My Batticaloa lagoon boat trip
One fine morning we set out for our date with nature and flora. The Batticaloa lagoon can be visited from all points. We wanted to touch the point at Batticaloa light house, so we began pretty early in the morning. So, after a ten min drive from Batticaloa town, we reached the Light house situated at the southern end of the city. The Batticaloa lagoon is dotted with a number of Islands and for of its enchanting beauty and flora, it used to be a favorite ground for the migrating birds.
Regular boat services provided by the sports club are available. There are a couple of selections when going on a boat ride. We picked the one that would take us to the bone island. Boarded one to take a look at the beautiful islands, Eco Park and locations closer to Batticaloa Town, don’t forget to taken a binocular with you to admire the surroundings. As our boat navigated along and from a distance we could see the lagoon expanding and the waters increasing, means we were approaching the bar-mouth where the water exits into the sea. On our trip my colleague suddenly revved up and within seconds there was a rustle and hundreds of birds flapped their wings and flew to a neighboring marsh.
Climb up the light house structure, the lagoon from there looked absolutely majestic; an area of blue water so massive that it is hard to believe that it is actually just a lagoon.
Manthivu in the interior of Batticaloa lagoon is also classified as a Bird Reservation and as our boat neared the island we could observe flock of birds. Migratory birds arrive in Batticaloa September -October from as far away as Siberia, Russia and usually stay until March- April.