Sri Lanka is fast being discovered for its abundance of Whales and Dolphins off the north western, eastern and southern coasts. Blue whales with a length of up to 100 feet and weighing over 200 tons and considered the largest animal on the planet is the most common type of whale sighted in Sri Lanka. The next most common whale sighted is the ones known to have the largest brain of any animal - the sperm whale!
While the season for sighting these mammals in the north western coast off of Kalpitiya and southern coast off of Mirissa is between the months of November and March, Trincomalee in the Eastern coast is known for the sightings of whales from March to May and Dolphins from May to October.
Mirissa is a hot spot for whale watching and is home to at least 5 varieties of whales - Blue whales, Bryde´s whales, Sperm whales, Fin whales, and sometimes the Killer whales. Blue and Sperm whales are the most common in the southern coast and can be seen from the Mirissa beach during certain months of the season. It is believed that whales migrate during the breeding season of December to April through the waters off the coast of Mirissa which is also home to some resident colonies. The heights of sightings are in January when the whales are migrating from the Arabian Sean to the Bay of Bengal and in April during their return journey.
Dolphins too make their presence known in the seas off Mirissa during the season. Common dolphins, Bottlenose dolphins, Spinner dolphins, Risso's dolphins and Striped dolphins are the most commonly sighted varieties of dolphins in the area. Pods of Dolphins are often seen accompanying the boats during the season and is a magnificent sight that shouldn't be missed.
Trincomalee (Trinco) too offers the sightings of Blue whales off its coast. The first coast in the island that offered commercial whale watching (in the 1980s), after it was discovered that the blue whales and sperm whales were entering the Trincomalee natural harbour using a submarine canyon. Whales of Trinco also have the distinction of being featured in the first underwater filming of sperm whales in their natural habitat – the award winning "Whales weep not". Trino's season for whale watching is when the migrating whales have reached the Bay of Bengal, hence the best time being March – May. Dolphins too are common in Trinco, however they may not be a welcoming a sight as the Kalpitiya beach.
Kalpitiya –Though whale sightings are not as common as in Mirissa, it does have its occasional visits of the giant mammal. Blue whales and Sperm whales are the most sighted in Kalpitiya along with the rest of the varieties - Melon-headed, Minke and the Dwarf Sperm whales -that make up the "big five" species that surface off the Kalpitiya coast. The peak times for the whales in this region are between November to December and March to April where only a short boat ride is required to go and see the sperm whales "blow" in to the sky.
Kalpitiya is more known for the Dolphins and offers the visitors with 1000s of dolphins that swim along the boat and show-off their acrobatic skills. The spinner dolphins, more common of the dolphin varieties that are present in Kalpitiya are so named for their "above water" spins! Along with the other varieties of Dolphins that are present - Bottlenose, Risso and Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins (also known as Pink Dolphins), a visit to Kalpitiya during the season is a must for those who love the marine mammals.