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Green & Ecotourism Issue from Sri Lanka

I found this sad tale on the internet today, from The Island online, a local publication.

Unregulated Whale and Dolphin Watching in Southern Sri Lanka (from and copywrite The Island) :

” Commercial whale and dolphin watching tourism is a very lucrative industry in many parts of the world today. More than 10 million people go to watch and wonder and be inspired by these animals each year. Commercial whale and dolphin watching tours are being operated in more than 90 countries around the world at present.

In this respect Sri Lanka has great potential in that our seas have both an abundance and diversity of whales and dolphins. While this has been known to researchers and fishermen for many decades, the tourism industry has only focused on this potential very recently. However, being short-sighted Sri Lankans, we are once more getting ready to “kill the goose that lays the golden egg” in order to make quick money in an unsustainable manner.

In the course of a research survey last week I happened to be in the same area where the Sri Lankan whale watching boats have initiated operations off the south coast. I have no words to describe the mayhem I witnessed and I was totally appalled at what was going on. Fortunately my research team was well positioned to record and document the entire procedure on two consecutive days, even though the experience left us feeling very stressed, frustrated and helpless.

On the first day, we found a baleen whale being completely surrounded by whale watch boats and being chased at high speed every time it surfaced to breath. There were a total of five whale watch boats around it of which only one was operating in a professional and correct manner that did not unduly stress the whale and also provided safety for the whale watchers on board. Their caution and correct conduct should be highly commended and held up as an example of how to do it right. All the other commercial whale watch boats, regardless of their size and who was operating them, were harassing the whale throughout this encounter making it change its natural behaviour due to the stress they were causing it.

Unfortunately, the whale watch boats went charging towards the whale every time it surfaced, forcing it to hurriedly take a few breaths and re-submerge before it was ready for another dive. By doing this the boats were causing much physical stress to the animal while also making sure that the whale watchers who pay a large sum for these expeditions got only short fleeting views of the whale.

Etc. Etc.

Truly the world has a long way to go, but, friends, if we can all move in the right direction, then things will happen. If you fret about how little you personally can do, then know that each and every small bit we do is worth it. Eventually, this carry on will cease, or at least be so rare as to matter less.

Posted in Ecotourism, General nature | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

2 Responses to Green & Ecotourism Issue from Sri Lanka

  • Guillaume Foutry said on February 23, 2009 at 23:32:

    Why are we (human beings) so short sighted??

  • Glen said on March 1, 2009 at 19:20:

    Found your website. Just passing by. By the way, your website has great content! 🙂

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