Whales at Trinco

Posted - 10 May, 2014

In January 1946, sailors and dock workers in Trincomalee harbour were witness to a rarely-seen event: the birth of a live blue whale calf. Mother and child then left the harbour in safety, unmolested by humans.

Trincomalee, just south of Kucchaveli (where Jungle Beach by Uga Escapes is located), is one of Sri Lanka’s top marine-mammal hotspots. A deep triple submarine canyon begins inside the harbour, just 200m offshore, rapidly plunging to a depth of over 3,000m. This feature, together with the massive outflow of organic matter from the Mahaveli, Sri Lanka’s largest river, creates plankton blooms that attract other sea creatures such as squid, the favourite food of sperm whales and pilot whales, as well as the ‘forage fish’ on which dolphins, orcas and other toothed whales prey. All these cetacean species congregate off ‘Trinco’, but the location is perhaps the best in Sri Lanka for watching the giant rorquals – blue whales, sei whales and Bryde’s whales – that are among the largest creatures ever to have lived on Earth. Very often, they can be seen without even leaving shore, from such lookouts as Swami Rock, Foul Point and some of the deeper bays within the harbour.

The best time for whale-watching north of Trinco is between July and October, when ideal conditions prevail all the way up to Kucchaveli itself. Rorquals and sperm whales are present all along the coast and particularly around the canyons; look for pilot whales and false killer whales farther out to sea. Dolphins are everywhere, particularly near Round Island in the harbour itself.

Uga Escapes is happy to arrange whale-watching expeditions for groups of up to 4 along with our expert naturalist and will be providing snacks and drinks for the journey.

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