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Over 100 sperm whales gather in Kalpitiya, onlookers puzzled

by Malaka Rodrigo

A sperm whale of Kalpitiya Dives (c) Upali Mallikarachchi

An aggregation of over 100 Sperm Whales in seas around Kalpitiya left many onlookers puzzled. This unusually large aggregation was first recorded around the Bar Reef area of Kalpitiya. Upali Mallikarachchi of Marine & Coastal Resources Conservation Foundation who witnessed the large gathering last weekend, said, these Whales were seen swimming North on Saturday.

Whales are capable of sensing sound under water, and there is also speculation that sound waves and shock waves generated by the underwater earthquake last week, could trigger this sudden aggregation. Another phenomenon is underwater drilling during oil exploration too could have an impact.  The whales eventually dispersed by breaking into few groups, said naturalists who had gone to observe this unusual gathering.

A mature Sperm Whale male can grow to 20.5 metres (67 ft) long. The block-shaped head of the Sperm Whale is one-quarter to one-third of the animal’s length which makes it easier to identify. Large aggregation of Sperm Whales has been recorded even in the past, but the timing of this gathering also puzzled the Whale Watchers.

But marine biologist and whale expert Asha de Vos says that large aggregation of whales is not that uncommon. Tropical waters are the ideal habitat for maternal groups of Sperm Whales, and sometimes, maternal groups come together, enlarging the aggregation. Asha says that, in the past, she has also seen areas where there were about 40 whales. However, many whale watching operators say they feel an unusual increase in whale sightings leaving questions for Marine Biologists.

Part of the gathering at Kalpitiya (c) Upali Mallikarachchi

A pod of Sperm Whales in Kalpitiya (c) Upali Mallikarachchi

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