Whale & Dolphin Watching in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is situated within the International whaling committed zone in the Indian Ocean. The situation as well as its easy access to the shore makes the island one of the easiest places in the world to spot PYGMY Blue Whales (a subspecies of blue whale – the second largest animal in the world), Sperm Whales and also Dolphins.A high concentration of blue whales and sperm whales has been repeatedly spotted in the seas off Mirissa and Trincomalee.
Blue whales are the largest animals on earth growing up to 80feet in length and weighing, up to 180 metric tons. They feed on krill, a shrimp like marine invertebrate.
Sperm whales are not as large as Blue whales, but are known to have the Largest Brain compared to any other species in the world. Approximately 67 feet long and they feed primarily on squid.
Dolphins are a migrant species not as large as whales. Spinner and bottle nose dolphins are the most commonly spotted dolphins in Sri Lankan waters.
There are three locations in Sri Lanka to spot whales and dolphins, namely; Kalpitiya, Mirissa and Trincomalee.
Mirissa is the best place in Sri Lanka to spot Blue Whales , Sperm Whales and Dolphins. It is approximately 5km south west of Matara, one of the main cities in Sri Lanka. The best time to watch whales and dolphins are from December to April.
Trincomalee is approximately 287km from the Bandaranaike International Airport. Whale watching starts when the Blue Whales and Sperm Whales migrate to the deep waters of Trincomalee. The perfect time to watch whales are March and April months. From March to October you can sight hundreds of Dolphins.
Kalpitiya is 165 km away from Colombo towards Puttlam. This area is best known to spot Dolphins and the best time to see them is from November to March. Naturalists say that the chances of spotting dolphins here are 95%.
Whale watching is best done in the morning. The boat usually leaves the bay at 6 in the morning. So you would have to start the journey approximately at 5.00 am leaving enough time to get to the bay on time.
If you choose to go whale watching in Mirissa there are two points to take off, one being Mirissa and the other Galle. If you choose Trincomalee then the pickup point will be from the main bay at Trincomalee
There is a 10% probability where you might not see the whales.
A trained guide will always accompany all travelers who wish to see the whales. First aid and other facilities like food and toilets are available on the boat. Rescue boat facilities are also available in case of an emergency. Life jackets have to be worn at all times.
The guide will not go close to the whales because there are international guidelines stating distances that must be maintained between the boast and whales to ensure one does not disturb the whales.
Marine Biologists say conditions around the island are good for whale habitat due to the nutrient flow from the country’s river systems. However, the peace of their habitat has been affected to a certain degree as a result of whale watching and also because of some unauthorized boats taking tourists very close to the whales.
- Make sure you wear comfortable clothes, covered shoes, comfortable sandals or slippers.
- Sri Lanka is a sunny country therefore it is recommended to bring sun block, hats and sun glasses.
- If you get sea sick, it is recommended that you take necessary medication before boarding. First aid facilities are also available on the boat.
- Make sure you do not throw bags and any other items or feed the dolphins or whales because you could pollute their natural habitat.
- Please refrain from urging the guides to take the boat near the whales because it will disturb the habitats of the whales.