Types of whales in Sri Lanka

Types of whales in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is one of the best well known country having breathtaking sightings of whales and dolphins in the world. Both species can be spotted at Dondra Point, Mirissa, Kalpitiya, and Trincomalee. Whales are best seen in the deep waters off Dondra head, Mirissa and Hikkaduwa situated in the southern coast and also it is thought to be the best place in the world to view the fames blue whales and sperm whales. Trincomalee comes in at a close second place for whale watching. Kalpitiya, on the other hand, is heaven for spotting the ever playful dolphin species that swim in our seas. Among these places, Mirissa is Sri Lanka’s top whale watching hotspot, perfect for spectacular views of the largest creature on the earth. Getting to see the whales in their natural habitats up close will definitely be one of your unforgettable experiences in your life.

When talking about the whale types that can be seen in Sri Lanka, it is said that there are 29 documented species of mammals in our waters, of which five are large whale species. Here are those types of whales that can be seen in coast around Sri Lanka.

Types of Whales

  • Blue Whales
  • Sperm Whales
  • Bryde’s Whales
  • Killer Whales
  • Pilot Whales


Blue Whales
The Blue whale is a marine mammal and the largest animal ever known to have existed on Earth. They are believed to be capable of growing up to and over 100ft, 31m in length and weigh up to and over 180 tons (200 short tons). Blue whales can reach speeds of 50 kilometers per hour over short bursts, usually when interacting with other whales, but 20 kilometers per hour is a more typical traveling speed. When feeding, they slow down to 5 kilometers per hour. Blue whales are baleen whales, they have “baleen plates” instead of teeth. Baleen, is made of keratin just like fingernails and hair. Each whale has many plates that hang down from its upper jaw, one after the other. Blue Whale eat small crustaceans known as krill about 2-4 tons a day. The female animal is larger than the male.

Sperm Whales
The sperm whale is the largest toothed whale and also known as the largest toothed predator in the world. Average length of mature male of sperm whale is about 16m and this giant mainly feeds on squid & they dive very deep finding large squids. Sperm whales have unique features. Its head is a huge 1/3 of the body size & head is blunt and asymmetrical with blow hole being on left and have the biggest brains. The males can grow up to 20m (66ft) and weigh up to 57 tons. They show significant sexual dimorphism where the males are at least three times heavier and twice as long as females. They are the second deepest diving whale species and dive to over 2km deep in search of prey.

Bryde’s Whales
Bryde’s Whales have two or possibly three different forms. The Bryde’s whale is a baleen whale, more specifically a rorqual belonging to the same group as blue whales and humpback whales. These whales are intermediate sized rorquals and can grow up to 45ft and above in length and can range from 13-25 tons. Like other rorquals, the have no teeth, but they have two rows of baleen plates and feed on shoals of small fish such as anchovy. Males are usually slightly smaller than females. These rorquals can reach lengths of about 40-55 ft. Bryde’s whales prefer highly productive tropical, subtropical and warm temperate waters. They usually appear individually or in pairs. Their blow is columnar or bushy, about 10–13 feet (3.0–4.0 m) high. It’s reported they blow or exhale while under water.

Killer Whales
Killer whales are known as orca or blackfish. They are scientifically classified as dolphins though they are called whales and grow to be 6-8m in length and around 6.5 tons in weight. Killer whales are usually entirely black with characteristic white markings which vary somewhat in shape depending on the subtype of killer whale. They are extreme predators with diverse feeding, some of them feed fish, marine mammals and some of them attack larger whales. They are very active and can reach 35mph excess speed. They are very playful and for these reasons are held captive in marine parks for entertainment purposes. Life span of killer whales is around 50-80 years.

Pilots Whales
Pilot whales are cetaceans which is dark black or dark grey in color. They are rather stocky with a rounded bulbous head. They are 3.5-5.5m in length and are 1.7-3 tons in weight. Adult females can reach a body length of about 5.5 m and males grow up to 7.2 m. They are usually seen in large pods and don’t mind being approached by vessels but hardly break the surface entirely and only stick out a small part of their head for breathing and observation purposes which is called “Spyhopping”. They are in two species as long finned and short finned. Their diet includes mostly preferred squid, octopus, herring, and various small fish. Observation of the Pilot Whales indicates that they teamwork in order to get the food that they want. Both species live in groups of 10–30, but some groups may number 200 or more.

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