I never thought I would see a blue whale outside of the Smithsonian museum. In fact, I thought they were almost extinct. On January 23, 2012 I saw four pairs of them. Blue Whaleswere not even on my bucket list. When we started doing research on Sri Lanka we found out that about ten years ago, fisherman,and people living on a cliff overlooking the southern tip of Sri Lanka started reporting seeing amazingly large “fish”. Soon, scientists showed up and the “‘fish” turned out to be actually mamals. The world’s largest animals, the Blue Whale.
Saying they are big is like saying celestial mechanics is slightly difficult.
Our travel agent, (www.srilanka.com ask for Johann) set this excursion up for us. We were supposed to go out in a big trimaran that held maybe thirty people. When we got to the dock early in the morning, there were only 7 people. Truthfully or not we were told that the big trimaran had mechanical problems and we were put in a little panga with a 40hp engine. I did not care, I just wanted to see the Blue Whales.
We headed due south, into the Indian Ocean for over an hour.
But then we saw one of the big boats change direction and stoke the coals. Our capatin wasted no time. Our little panga was much more maneuverable and faster than the big boats, which it turns out is desirable when you are hunting the Blue Whales!
These giants stay submerged for 30 to 40 minutes. When they come up for air, they do it rather dramatically. They first exhaust water through their blow holes.
So when they do appear, the boats out hunting for them start moving towards them. But they do not stay up very long at all, maybe three minutes. Our little boat served us well, and we were able to get close enough for a couple of decent photos.
Scientists have somehow determined that a Blue Whale can put half of its brain asleep at a time (hmmm) so that it can continue to move and remember to surface for air as it needs to. Interesting facts for my readers!
Sri Lanka should be on any world travelers destination list. For many reasons. I saved this post for last because seeing Blue Whales up close and personal is pretty amazing, and something I know I will never forget.