It’s a beautiful morning. The waves are lapping gently on the sides of the boat and you’re out whale watching. As these beautiful majestic creatures glide, slip into the water, dip suddenly, fins up with a mighty splash or come curiously towards the boat, you are totally one with nature. There’s lots of blue around, blue seas meeting the blue of the sky on the horizon, changing in colour, deepening into the flames of orange as the day draws to an end.
Though we cannot hear them, blue whales sing! Their “songs” are recorded through seafloor seismometers and whale acoustic recording packages meant for such research. They do so to attract potential mates by singing in a pitch that crosses vast expanses of the ocean. As the frequency rises, the transmission distance is higher, enabling them to locate potential female mates or judge the distance of other male competitors. Using most of the air in their lungs, they emit sounds that are meant to impress females and even other male whales! Does this sound familiar?
What we travel miles to watch with so much wonder – blue whales – are an endangered species. Hunting for these species in the Antarctic was banned in 1964 but by the time of the ban, their numbers had dropped from around 20,000 then to approximately 2,000 with worldwide statistics showing blue whales as having reduced from 220,000 in 1964 to a meager 3,000 five decades hence. This spells unthinkable damage to the eco system by whaling.
Sri Lanka places great emphasis on nurturing nature. The Department of Coast Guard, Sri Lanka believes in making whale watching not just an activity of pure recreation with all the safety catches in place, but also ensures the safety of the behaviour, migration patterns and breeding of these adorable mammals. With whale friendly seas around the island, there’s plenty of opportunity to watch blue whales, sperm whales and dolphin concentrations at play as nowhere else in the world. Who wouldn’t like to watch close up (safe distance permitted) mothers with their calves, with a concentration of possibly ten whales within a quadrat of a half kilometer square?