The Chilaw Lagoon, located approximately 80 kilometres away from the centre of Colombo, on Sri Lanka’s west coast, is a major source of livelihood for more than a thousand families residing within its settlements. The lagoon’s environment also allows for the sustainable development of its fisheries.
A Haven for Important Marine Life
Chilaw lagoon is home to a variety of fish, including catfish, sardines, snappers, seabass and milkfish. There are also different types of prawns swimming through its waters, including Indian prawns, giant tiger prawns and green tiger prawns. In all, around 20 different species of fish, prawn and crab live within the Chilaw Lagoon and are considered to be commercially important for the country. At its greatest depth, the lagoon reaches down about 3.9 meters, but this depth varies over time in conjunction with the tide and heavy rainfall. At low tide, extensive mudflats are exposed at the lagoon.
A Diverse Mangrove Eco System
The lagoon is fringed by marshes and mangrove forests. These mangrove ecosystems protect the coast from erosion and storm surges, as well as providing a sheltered habitat for younger fish that are not yet grown enough to venture out on their own. There are 16 mangrove species associated with the Chilaw Lagoon and its surrounding wetlands, and the area is said to be the most species-divergent mangrove along Sri Lanka’s southwestern coast.