Discovering the Marine Mammals of Sri Lanka
Tuesday, October 6th, 2020 | Blog
Not many people know that the waters surrounding Sri Lanka are among the best places in the world to see whales, dolphins and other marine mammals. Mainly, this is due to a lack of proper information and publicity.
Though sightings are frequent at many locations round the island, not many find their way into the public records. Such records as do exist are scattered among a plethora of scientific treatises and journals, ships’ logs, tour operators’ logbooks and private correspondence. Until now, no-one has attempted to collate this wealth of information, vast and scattered as it is, into a simple, usable guide for researchers, marine mammal enthusiasts and the casual whale-watcher.
Location may be one reason why Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon, is not as well known as it should be among whale watchers. It is a small country, not often in the news, and located far from places like Australia, Europe, North America and the United Kingdom, where the largest communities of marine mammal enthusiasts are found. Although the island welcomes hundreds of thousands of overseas visitors annually and is easily accessible by air with few visas and other formalities to deter visitors, its potential as a whale- and dolphin-watching destination has never been fully realised.
Few are aware, for example, that about a third of the world’s recognised species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises have been sighted off the shores of Sri Lanka, and that many of them are either native to these waters or regular visitors to them. Although word of these attractions has now begun to spread among enthusiasts, the marine mammals of Sri Lanka remain a well-kept secret to most visitors to the country – and, sadly, to many Sri Lankans as well