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One Hundred Percent Encounter Rate

Is Southern Sri Lanka the world's top spot for seeing blue and sperm whales?

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eTN  Jun 19, 2008

South of Dondra in Sri Lanka, may turn out to be the best location in the world for seeing blue whales. Furthermore, it may also be the best for seeing both blue whales and sperm whales together. This view is based on recent observations and a theory of a migration of whales by marine biologist Charles Anderson. During the season, a Blue Whale is easier to see to the south of Dondra, than a leopard in Yala.

In April this year, South of Dondra, we had a one hundred percent encounter rate for the highly desired, but usually difficult to spot, Blue Whale. Both the largest baleeen whale and the largest toothed whale were within sight from the shore. Sri Lanka could be the world's top spot for watching Blue and Sperm Whales together. Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne thinks it's time to publicize this internationally. The ascendancy of the Galle-Mirissa coastal strip to being an international hot spot for Blue and Sperm Whales has just begun. This is the story.

In April 2008, I was able to see for myself how easy it was to see a Blue Whale in the seas south of the area between Mirissa and Dondra Head. It was easier than seeing a leopard in Yala. I ended April with over a thousand images of Blue and Sperm Whales and Long-snouted Spinner Dolphins, which were good enough to keep. On twenty-two whale-watching sessions in the first twenty-six days of April, Jetwing Lighthouse naturalist Anoma Alagiyawadu saw Blue Whales every session. Seeing a Blue Whale during April seemed to be almost guaranteed, almost as sure as seeing an elephant in Uda Walawe National Park. Due to the calm seas between December and April, there are is an outstanding window of opportunity for observing Blue Whales and Sperm Whales close to shore. Marine biologist Dr. Charles Anderson believes that sightings peak in December and April because of their migration.

The Deep South of Sri Lanka may be one of the world's best locations (among the top two or three) for watching Blue Whales and Sperm Whales - two of the most sought-after marine mammals. In fact, for seeing both Sperm and Blue Whales together, it may even turn out to be the best location in the world. This has not been my discovery, but it has been my privilege to be involved with those who have made this discovery during my own quest to develop whale watching in Sri Lanka. Many people have been involved over three decades in efforts to develop whale watching in Sri Lanka. They could each tell their own story from different perspectives. This article is the story from my individual perspective of how Sri Lanka finally acquired the infrastructure and information to become pre-eminent as a whale-watching destination.

Is Southern Sri Lanka the world's top spot for seeing blue and sperm whales?

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