Nowhere else in the world do whales and dolphins venture so close to the coast and in such numbers as they do off Mirissa. The warm coastal waters off Southern Sri Lanka merge with the colder waters of the continental shelf just 10 nautical miles offshore, creating a cycle of rising nutrients that provide nourishment for millions of krill – the tiny crustacean that feeds some of the largest whales in the world.
Sperm, Fin, Bryde’s, Humpback and even Killer Whales, as well as large pods of Dolphins, are all seen regularly off the coast of Mirissa. But it’s the unrivalled prevalence of blue whales near Mirissa – and their accessibility – that places Sri Lanka at the top of the list of wildlife encounters that every person should try to experience.
Mirissa is the most reliable place in the world to see Blue Whales – as many as many as 30 have been sighted in one day – yet scientists are still learning about them. Studies only started here in 2006 so there isn’t enough data yet to know exactly what their migratory habits are. Some believe they migrate to Mirissa each year from the Arabian Sea. Others think they never leave.
What is known is that the pygmy blue whales of Mirissa speak a different dialect to the Antarctic Blue Whale and they’re five meters shorter than their polar-dwelling cousins. At an impressive 25 metres long, they’re hardly runts though. Wait until one swims beneath your boat, then you’ll understand just how big they really are. Or watch a blue whale arching its back as it prepares to dive. Its spinal ridge seems to go on forever until eventually its dorsal fin appears. By the time the tail fin rises out of the water, you’ll have been wondering whether this animal was ever going to end.