Pulicat Lake (Telugu: Pulicat Sarassu పులికాట్ సరస్సు, Tamil: Pazhaverkaadu Eri பழவேற்காடு ஏரி ) is the second largest brackish - water lake or lagoon in India. It straddles the border of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu states on the Coromandal Coast in South India. The lake encompasses the Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary. The barrier island of Sriharikota separates the lake from the Bay of Bengal. The island is home to the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.
Every year approximately 15,000 Greater Flamingos are reported to visit the lake along with pelicans, kingfishers, herons, painted storks, spoonbills and ducks. Birds of prey which appear in winter are the: White-bellied Sea Eagle, Osprey, Harriers and Peregrine Falcons. 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. The largest concentrations of Flamingos occur in the Andhra Pradesh part of the sanctuary, around the islands of Vendadu and Irukkam.
Fishing is the major occupation in the many villages located around the lake periphery and on the islands. The lake has rich fish diversity, mostly marine species, some truly brackish water and a few freshwater species. Mullets and Catfish are the major brackish water fish, which have supported sustenance fishing for the lake fishermen. The lake is a nursery for several species of fish. Two thirds of the settlements in the lake area are in Tamil Nadu and the balance in Andhra Pradesh. 12,370 fishermen live on fulltime fishery in the lake (6,000 in Andhra Pradesh and 6,370 in Tamil Nadu).
The shallow lake is known for its diversity of aquatic birds and is an important stopover on migration routes and is reported to be the third most important wetland on the eastern coast of India for migratory shorebirds, particularly during the spring and autumn migration seasons. In view of the rich avifauna of the lagoon, two bird sanctuaries are established in the lagoon, one in each of the two states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Aquatic vegetation reported are 59 species, including eight Cyanophyceae, seven Chlorphyceae and two Rhodophyceae. Patches of residual, dry, evergreen forest and large areas of littoral scrub in woodlands in fishing villages bordering the lagoon are seen. Invasive phytoplankton species of Prosopis juliflora, Spirulina major, Oscillatoria spp., Anabaena spp., Rhizosolenia castracanei, Eucampia cornuta and Climacodium frauenfeldianum in the plains on the periphery of the lake have been recorded.