In the coastal waters off the southern tip of Sri Lanka, whale watching is becoming an increasingly popular tourist attraction. The whale watching industry is gathering momentum with a number of large private sector companies already engaged in the business. However, last week the newest tour operator to offer whale watching tours to the public, both tourist and local, is none other than the Sri Lanka Navy.
The navy launched a special vessel with a capacity to carry 300 passengers, which will not only take visitors on tour to see the whales, but will also use state-of-the-art equipment to locate the huge mammals and then guide other operator boats to the location. Such a service is highly welcomed by all the operators, as it increases ones chances of sighting the whales.
Sri Lanka media portal News First (website) further states that the Fisheries Harbour Corporation is also set to launch its own whale and dolphin watching vessel off the southern coast in April. The vessel with a capacity to carry 50 passengers is somewhat of a luxury vessel boasting many cruise-ship like facilities including a restaurant, the website said.
Whale watching is a relatively new activity on the Sri Lanka tourism itinerary, as it has only become available after the end of Sri Lanka’s civil conflict. During the 27 years of conflict between government troops and the ruthless militant Tamil Tigers, the defense ministry had banned the sale and use of boat motors above 5hp. There was also several restrictions imposed upon the movements of baot traffic in the costal waters off-shore. But, now with the war well in her past, Sri Lanka is becoming the indomitable tourist paradise it so deservedly is.
Between the months of December and April the seas south of Dondra Head and Mirissa are known for Blue and Sperm whales sightings close to shore. Dolphins too are plentiful.