Large numbers of sperm whales were sighted off the seas of North-western Sri Lanka on 14th April 2012. Even though the island is a popular destination for whale watching and dolphin watching this is one of most rare occasions in which 100 to 150 whales were sighted in the same spot. Sudden influx of whales in to one location has raised great concern among the naturalists and marine biologists. Whales were first appearing about 6 km from the “Bar reef” off Kalpitiya and on the second occasion they were sighted 7 km west of Kandakuliya.
Large gathering of whales were first sighted by the fishermen in the area. Apart from the sperm whales there had been few blue whales, many spinner dolphins and pygmy Sperm Whales in the area. It is reported that the animal appeared off Kalpitiya are in varying sizes and there had been only few bulls within the group. Therefore naturalists believe that the gathering was not specifically pertaining to the breeding.
Naturalists speculate that the incident is closely related to the underwater tremor which occurred in Sumatra. The underwater seismic activity at a magnitude of 6-8 triggered Tsunami warning in many Indian Ocean countries. While the whales were seen in great numbers off North-Western seas, same time whales and dolphins had disappeared off Mirissa, southern Sri Lanka.
There are several theories have been put forward in regards to the incident one interesting point is the large gathering of small fish species such as “Bollo”, squids which are the favorite food of whales. Fishermen have observed that whales were feeding on small fish and obviously the giants were also resting on the surface of the water before making long dive. Large gathering of small fish species had been an indication of the nutrients necessary of the whales, which is indicative of the “up swelling” of the water, possibly due to the underwater tremor, and it could be surmised that the “prey” was followed by the “predator”.
The location of the gathering of whales being the North-Western seas makes a clear indication of the purpose. They were sheltered from the strong current, tremors and vibrations of the underwater seismic activity as Sri Lanka was in between Sumatra and the location where they gathered.
There are many such incidents reported from various parts of the world, where whales were disappeared after underwater seismic activities. Various researches have confirmed that whales are sensitive to the tremors and vibrations. Scientific report that appeared recently in Mexico confirms that whales are sensing the underwater seismic activities. In the research they have found the fin whales rushed away from the area after an underwater tremor.
Whale watching in Kalpitiya
Large numbers of sperm whales were sighted on 18 April 2012 off the Kalpitiya Sea, east Sri Lanka. Naval craft attached to SLNS Vijaya that was on routine patrol has observed the whales. Kalpitiya is one of the very popular places in Sri Lanka to witness Dolphins and whales.
Whales can now be often seen in the area. The whales were sighted three nautical miles from the Bar Reef. It is reported that whales are sighted in pods around Kalpitiya.
After the civil war in the country, the tourists are flock in to the island and whale watching has become a popular holiday activity specially in the southern Sri Lanka and East coast. One can have the rare chance of watching whales closely and capture them in action in Kalpitiya.