The growing popularity of whale watching holidays is down to the thrill of open sea, spectacular scenery and the magnificent whales. The island of Sri Lanka has long been a hotspot for whales and dolphins, in 1979 a part of Indian Ocean in which the country is situated was declared as a protected zone by the International Whaling Commission. The 27 species of cetaceans including the common blue whales, bryde’s whales, sperm whales, killer whales, false killer whales, dwarf whales, melon headed whales as well as the elusive blue whales haunt the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. Dolphin and Whale watching is a seasonal activity in Sri Lanka, available on the west coast and along the south west coast from November to March while the east coast from June to September.
Blue whale is the largest animal on the earth, the adult one can weigh up to 200 ton while the newly born calf may weigh as much as a full grown elephant. Seeing a blue whale is what every whale-watcher dreamed of. The deeps South of Dondra may be one of the world’s best locations to observe blue whales and sperm whales. There are also sightings of species of whales in the area of Baticaloa, Trincomalee, Kirinda, Weligama, Negombo, Mirissa and Chilaw.
For the past three decades efforts have bee made to boost the whale watching activity in Sri Lanka. However the belief that whale watching, particularly the blue whales would have to be centred around Trincomalee, paucity of data available for developing this commercial activity, the scarcity of adequate facilities to use and the very high cost of product development deferred the immense potential of the country in this activity.
The Whale Watching Programme was launched by the Ceylon Fishery Harbours Corporation (CFHC) and the Walkers Tour Limited in affiliation with the National Aquatic Resources Agency to enter this niche market in tourism. Jetwing Eco-Holiday Team on the other hand had been showing vast effort in promoting whale watching as well as the other eco-tourism in the country.
Whale watching is a truly amazing adventure, enjoyable yet educational. A once in a life time experience that provides opportunity to see different species of whales concentrated in a particular area, mother and calves or whole families at play. Whale spotting is an art of its own, in which patience and keenness in scanning the open sea is needed. Identifying the whale species is such a big challenge to the watchers, due to the submerged parts of the body. The shape of the tails fins or flukes and dorsal fins as well as the general body shape helps in distinguishing the species.
Whale watching has been recognized as an imperative way to strength cetacean conservation. A good whale watching trip treats the whales and other species being watched with care and respect. As a respect to whales and their environment specialist whale watching companies rigorously follow guidelines, support local communities and promote conservation and protection.
With Sri Lanka’s frequency and proximity to the shore, the country provides an extremely well-run whale watching adventure holiday.