Amazing pictures of whales off the coast of Sri Lanka are good news for this leviathan of the Indian Ocean

 

We see the whale as emblem of a threatened planet, writes conservationist Philip Hoare in the Guardian UK—and nowhere do we see them better than here in Sri Lanka.

And the fact that we see them in such large numbers, an experience that is attracting more and more adventure tourists, is good news for the future of whales worldwide.

Writes Hoare: “The Sri Lankan gathering is a cetacean ‘spring break’. But it’s also a positive indication of the relative health of the global sperm whale population, estimated at 360,000, according to the scientist Hal Whitehead.”

 

Hoare teamed up with marine photographer Andrew Sutton to create a portfolio of amazing pictures documenting the lives of a family of whales gathered off Sri Lanka’s southern coast.

He writes: “Andrew Sutton’s photographs are vivid evidence of a little-known population—all the more surprising since sperm whales are the largest active predators on the planet with males reaching nearly 20m (65ft) in length.”

He notes that “as natural submarines, they shut down all their organs except for their heart and brain, and using their muscular tails are able to dive for up to a mile, spending up to two hours feeding on squid”.

 

“They are mysterious selves, living in an alien world. Talking to scientists such as Whitehead, Luke Rendell and Shane Gero, I often feel I’m interviewing astronauts who’ve discovered extraterrestrial species.

“Last year, Andrew and I dove with a super-pod of 150 sperm whales here, many in mating mode.

“We watched a pair of whales swim belly-to-belly under our tiny fishing boat, so engaged in their coupling that they appeared blissfully unperturbed by the humans hanging a few feet over them.”

Read more here.

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