Sri Lanka: Blue Whale Extension Jan 25—29, 2018

Posted by Machiel Valkenburg


Machiel Valkenburg

Machiel Valkenburg was born in 1982 in a southern province in the Netherlands where, encouraged by his parents, he began birding at an early age. During his teens he studie...

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After the Sri Lanka main tour, VENT offered the option of joining an extension to the extreme south side of the island to enjoy some of the Blue Whale congregations in the Indian Ocean. We moved south over the expressway, picking up some local birds like Asian Openbill, Painted Stork, and Brahminy Kite. We visited the Galle Fort, admiring this seventeenth century monument recognized by UNESCO located along the deep blue Indian Ocean.

Blue Whale taking a deep dive

Blue Whale taking a deep dive— Photo: Machiel Valkenburg


The beach town of Mirissa would be our base for the coming three nights. From our hotel we had sublime views over the far stretching Indian Ocean, and the bar served a delicious local Pineapple and Passion fruit juice. We spent the next two days solely on the water in search of cetaceans and, in particular, Blue Whales. The birdlife was, due to a very mild and pleasant eastern breeze, totally non-existent. But after leaving the harbour, we found both Great and Lesser crested terns, common Whiskered Terns, and a Striated Heron that was fishing from a small boat. Our first encounter was with a large pod of Risso’s Dolphins that came in very close to the vessel. Their flat forehead gives them an interesting appearance. A few smaller Spinner Dolphins accompanied the Risso’s Dolphins, and they also gave us excellent views. During the days we found a total of three Blue Whales, with the last two putting on a real show. We found them at a large distance and promptly headed in their direction. After a 14-minute dive, they came up again right next to the boat, around 200 yards out. After surfacing for a minute or two, they came right towards us and reached a mere distance of only 40 yards out. The ended the spectacle with a deep dive showing their entire tails above water. What enormous creatures they are! Very happy and excited, we returned back to base to relax in the pool. 

Read Machiel’s full report in his Field Report.