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Monday, March 30, 2015

Whale Watching Sightings at Mirissa (25 - 30 Mar 15)

Dolphin & Whale Watching Sightings at Mirissa from 25th - 30th March 2015


DATE                                                       # OF WHALES                          # OF DOLPHINS


        2015.03.30                            Blue Whale 05+                   Spinner Dolphins 300+

 Sperm Whale 15+
Whale Shark 01
            Turtle 01

        2015.03.29                            Blue Whale 05+                   Spinner Dolphins 300+

        2015.03.28                            Blue Whale 05+                   Spinner Dolphins 300+

        2015.03.27                            Blue Whale 07+                   Spinner Dolphins 100+

        2015.03.26                            Blue Whale 04+                   Spinner Dolphins 400+

        2015.03.25                            Blue Whale 04+                   Spinner Dolphins 50+ 




Data courtesy of Mirissa Water Sports (PVT) Ltd.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Whale Watching Sightings at Mirissa (18 - 24 Mar 15)

Dolphin & Whale Watching Sightings at Mirissa from 18th - 24th March 2015


       DATE                                            # OF WHALES                          # OF DOLPHINS


        2015.03.24                            Blue Whale 2+                      Spinner Dolphins 200+      

        2015.03.23                            Blue Whale 02                      Spinner Dolphins 100+      
        2015.03.22                            Blue Whale 02+                    Spinner Dolphins 50+

        2015.03.21                            Blue Whale 01+                    Spinner Dolphins 100+

        2015.03.20                            Blue Whale 01                      Bottlenose Dolphins 50+

        2015.03.19                            Blue Whale 02+                    -----------------------

        2015.03.18                            Blue Whale 02+                    ----------------------- 



Data courtesy of Mirissa Water Sports (PVT) Ltd.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Whale Watching Sightings at Mirissa (05 - 17 Mar 15)

Dolphin & Whale Watching Sightings at Mirissa from 5th - 17th March 2015


DATE                                            # OF WHALES                          # OF DOLPHINS

        2015.03.17                            Blue Whale 03+                   Spinner Dolphins 100+

        2015.03.16                            Blue Whale 01

        2015.03.15                            -----------------                       Spinner Dolphins 30+

        2015.03.14                            -----------------                       -------------------------

        2015.03.13                            Blue Whale 01

        2015.03.12                            ----------------                      Spinner Dolphins 200+

        2015.03.11                            ----------------                      Spinner Dolphins 100+

        2015.03.10                            ----------------                      Spinner Dolphins 300+

        2015.03.09                            Blue Whale 02

        2015.03.08                            Blue Whale 02

        2015.03.07                            Blue Whale 01

        2015.03.06                            Blue Whale 01                       Spinner Dolphins 100+

        2015.03.05                            Blue Whale 01                       Rissos Dolphins 30+




Data courtesy of Mirissa Water Sports (PVT) Ltd.

Monday, March 9, 2015

National Geographic, BT boost for Lanka’s wild life



Sri Lanka’s alluring wild life has got a boost via National Geographic and UK’s BT Channel 424 airing it on Sunday nights.
In prompting the telecast BT says “Discover dazzling landscapes, stunning seas and exotic creaturesin ‘Wild Sri Lanka’ now on Nat Geo Wild.”
“Sri Lanka’s definitely at the luxury end of the wildlife spectrum and there’s plenty to ‘ooh!’ over in this sumptuous series, unveiling the iconic animals, sublime scenery and startling secrets of this tropical gem set in the Indian Ocean,” it added.
“From over-excited elephants fighting for the best grassy bit in the meadow to acrobatic monkeys under aerial attack from eagles, leopards stubbornly refusing to change their spots, and dolphins outwitting all around them, this is natural history to drool over,” BT Channel 424 said.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Whale Watching Sightings at Mirissa (26 Feb - 04 Mar 15)

Dolphin & Whale Watching Sightings at Mirissa from 26th - 4th March 2015

DATE                                   # OF WHALES                 # OF DOLPHINS

2015.03.04                         Blue whale 03              Spinner dolphins 100+
2015.03.03                         Blue whale 01                      
                                           Bryde whale 01            
2015.03.02                         Blue whale 03+              
                                                       
2015.03.01                        Blue whale 1                 Spinner dolphins 100+
2015.02.28                        Blue whale 03+             Spinner dolphins 30+  
2015.02.27                        Blue whale 02+             Spinner dolphins 50+

2015.02.26                        Blue whale 02                       


Data courtesy of Mirissa Water Sports (PVT) Ltd.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Baring bear facts


A challenging study by two researchers will soon reveal the little known lifestyle of the Wilpattu sloth bear. Kumudini Hettiarachchi reports
They roughed out in the wilds day and night, keeping their eyes glued on the thickets to get a glimpse of these elusive creatures, peered at them through powerful cameras and captured them on camera-traps that they fixed in the jungles.
All the insect-bitten nights and the long days with only scrap meals, sometimes just gulping down water, have paid off.
Some of the ‘secrets’ of the sloth bear, an iconic large mammal of this country, are now out in the open, while the vacuum in the knowledge about them is slowly but surely being filled.
For, two researchers are now privy to the ‘lifestyle’ of the not-much-researched sloth bear ensconced in the still-pristine Wilpattu National Park close to Anuradhapura.
The duo who undertook this arduous challenge are researchers Ranil Nanayakkara and Nilantha Vishvanath of Biodiversity Education and Research (BEAR).
Ranil Nanayakkara
The sloth bear is listed as ‘Endangered’ by the Ministry of Environment in the National Red List for Sri Lanka. Although it is the ‘third’ in Sri Lanka’s ‘Big Three’, with the others being the elephant and the leopard, not much research has been carried out on this majestic animal in recent times, except for two studies conducted by Eisenberg and Lockhart in 1972 and Rathnayake in 2000-2001.
The quest for knowledge on the sloth bear has not been without its inherent dangers including a close-encounter with an enraged elephant, the head-butt of which has left a dent on the jeep, a reminder to Ranil and Nilantha of the narrow shave they had.
The sloth bear project has been undertaken by BEAR with the unstinting support of the Department of Wildlife Conservation and the assistance of CIC Holdings PLC, with the Business & Biodiversity Platform of the Chamber of Commerce acting as the coordinator. Well-known mammal expert, Prof. Devaka Weerakoon is providing the technical support for the project.
Where do the sloth bears in Wilpattu prefer to live, what are their favoured foods, what are their amorous traits and what of their offspring are some of the questions the researchers have been able to gather information on, while some questions still remain unanswered.
Camera-traps placed in crucial locations in the Maradanmaduwa area and the 10km line-transect for the silent-device census, as well as the study of pug-marks and scat (droppings) have been the tools used in this study.
There have been 39 direct visual encounters including during night drives with Ranil and Nilantha seeing with their own eyes 26 males, six females, three cubs and four “unidentified” bears. These were in addition to the other information collected through the other techniques which have all enabled the duo to come up with a rough sketch of the lifestyle of the sloth bear within the park.
“Initially, we thought the preferred habitat of sloth bears was rock outcrops and caves, but there being not much granite at Wilpattu, they are using decaying trees and hollows they excavate in the earth as their dens,” says Ranil, adding that although they are frequently seen near the unique villus, the animals amble back to forested areas. “They like the primeval forest with its ancient trees.”
Although an earlier study had indicated that the home range of this creature is about 1.34 sq.km, the Sunday Times learns that in Wilpattu it is wider, with the males sometimes having an overlap of their territories.
Ranil’s excitement is tangible when he describes some of the ‘subjects’ of their scrutiny. One she-bear with two cubs is “beautiful” with its glossy coat, while another with two cubs is “scraggy”.
There is a broad smile when he talks of a third female which had one cub. Many had been the debates among Nilantha, the tracker and himself because she had no fur at the end of her tail which resembled a sausage which could lead to a misconception about her gender. The cub at her side had effectively ended the dispute.
Explaining that the identification of the individual sloth bears came from scars, marks and the shape, size and length of pug-marks, Ranil recalls how inquisitive one male was. As much as their human observers were watching the sloth bears, this curious male had taken to ‘inspecting’ them closely. One night, on hearing a “chara-chara” noise, when Ranil flashed the spotlight, they had found the male staring at them questioningly.
Earlier notions of when sloth bears mate have also been overturned. Whereas it had been thought that they mate from November to January and July-August, the love-making peak of Wilpattu’s sloth bears is May, June and July. “It’s a noisy affair with lots of grunting lasting the whole night,” laughs Ranil who had seen them indulging in their affections on trees.
One handsome he-bear with a sleek coat had not at all been inhibited when the jeep Ranil and Nilantha were in, encountered him and his lady-friend in the dead of night. While the she-bear was shy and coy, moving into a thicket, the he-bear had strutted up to about five metres from the jeep.
Regrettably though the exact gestation period is yet unknown. The cubs, like pups, are born blind, and the mothers are seen with them around April, May, June and July, says Ranil.
What seems to tickle the sloth bear’s palate most, meanwhile, according to Ranil, is not palu, but weera, dang and third in line, palu. The scat also indicates a termite diet, but an analysis would be needed to find out which species of termites they consider a delicacy.
Scat has also revealed some interesting differences between the males and the females – while the males poo in lumps to mark their territory, the females drop their dung on the move, Ranil says, adding that Boraluwala, a waterhole near Maradanmaduwa is a male haunt, proven by the scats found in plenty there.
As they collate their findings and pass a fine-tooth comb through the information to analyse them, the sloth bears will not be left a forgotten entity after only one research.
Phase II of the sloth-bear project is collaring these creatures to get definitive answers on their home range. Radio collars put on sloth bears will help confirm the findings of Phase I with regard to their den sites as well.
For all those involved in the research, the escalating human-bear conflict is a serious worry. “We hope our research will help in the conservation of the sloth bear,” adds Ranil.
Radio collaring on the cardsHappy over the basic data collated under Phase I of the sloth bear project, CIC Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Samantha Ranatunga assures that they are hoping to launch the radio-collaring under Phase II early next year.
Samantha Ranatunga
“There is a lot more to do,” said wildlife aficionado Mr. Ranatunga who is not only an active member of the Business & Biodiversity Platform but is also funding the sloth bear project. He is past Chairman of the Platform’s Advisory Committee.
The Platform is a joint initiative of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Dilmah Conservation.
Referring to the sloth bear, Mr. Ranatunga drew a parallel between this “misunderstood animal” and the “misunderstood industry” that he represents.
The sloth bear is inquisitive and the knee-jerk reaction from humans results in this creature getting killed. It seems to be the same with the chemical industry.

A year’s findings open to public
‘The Sri Lankan Sloth Bear: Recent findings from Wilpattu’ will bring before the public the ‘yield’ of a year’s project, on Wednesday (October 29) from 4.30 to 6.30 p.m. at the National Science Foundation auditorium, 47/5, Maitland Place, Colombo 7. 
The co-founder of Biodiversity Education and Research (BEAR), Ranil Nanayakkara will make the presentation on ‘Working towards estimating the sloth bear population densities in the Wilpattu National Park – Interesting facts and findings from the field’.
The session is open to the public.
The goal of the project’s Phase I lasting from July 2913 to June 2014 was to map and evaluate the population density and composition of sloth bears in Wilpattu, the largest National Park, and identify their habitat needs and preferences.
Getting down to the technicalities, Ranil says that the sloth bear is a member of the family Ursidae found in the lowlands of Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and Nepal. The two recognized sub-species are Melursus ursinus and Melursus ursinus inornatus.
The preliminary survey identified areas of sloth bear presence through evidence such as sightings, bear tracks, scats and termite mounds with scratch marks. It found Maradanmaduwa to be the regular haunt of the sloth bear, the Sunday Times learns.
The techniques used to get a census were spotlight census, track census and camera trapping, says Ranil.
While scat samples have also been collected to be analyzed for their seasonal diet and possible DNA, the project initiators are hoping that all the information gained at Wilpattu could then be applied islandwide in conservation strategies for the sloth bear.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Whale Watching Sightings at Mirissa (22 - 25 Feb 15)

Dolphin & Whale Watching Sightings at Mirissa from 22nd - 25th February 2015

DATE                                            # OF WHALES                          # OF DOLPHINS

   

       2015.02.25                            Blue Whale 01               Spinner Dolphins 300+
     
       2015.02.24                            Blue Whale 03+             Spinner Dolphins 30+
                                                                                            Bottlenose Dolphins 20+

       2015.02.23                            Blue Whale 05               Spinner Dolphins 20+

       2015.02.22                            Blue Whale 01               Spinner Dolphins 50+
                                                                                            Spotted Dolphins 20+


Data courtesy of Mirissa Water Sports (PVT) Ltd.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Whale Watching Sightings at Mirissa (17 - 21 Feb 15)

Dolphin & Whale Watching Sightings at Mirissa from 17th - 21st February 2015

DATE                                            # OF WHALES                          # OF DOLPHINS
     

       2015.02.21                            Blue Whale 02             Spinner Dolphins 10+

       2015.02.20                            Blue Whale 01+           Spinner Dolphins 50+

       2015.02.19                            Blue Whale 01+           Spinner Dolphins 50+

       2015.02.18                            Blue Whale 02             Bottlenose Dolphins 30+
                                                                                          Spinner Dolphins 30+

       2015.02.17                            Bryde's Whale 01         Spinner Dolphins 200+




Data courtesy of Mirissa Water Sports (PVT) Ltd.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Whale Watching Sightings at Mirissa (09 - 16 Feb 15)

Dolphin & Whale Watching Sightings at Mirissa from 9th - 16th February 2015


DATE                                            # OF WHALES                          # OF DOLPHINS


       2015.02.16                             Blue Whale 01

       2015.02.15                             Blue Whale 01              Spinner Dolphins 20+

       2015.02.14                             Blue Whale 01              Stripped Dolphins 50+

       2015.02.13                             Blue Whale 01

       2015.02.12 (Jayasayura - 01)  Blue Whale 01             Bottlenose Dolphins 30+
                                                     Whale Shark 01              Spinner Dolphins 30+
                                                 
                         
                       (Jayasayura - 02)  Blue Whale 01
                                                    Fin Whale 02                   Spinner Dolphins 50+
                                                    Turtle  

       2015.02.11                            Bryde's Whale 02            Spinner Dolphins 50+
                                                     Whale Shark 01

       2015.02.10                             Fin Whale 02                 Spinner Dolphins 20+

       2015.02.09                             Blue Whale 01                                  


Data courtesy of Mirissa Water Sports (PVT) Ltd.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sat 14th Feb, 2015 was...

World Whale Day

Image by Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne


Giants of the ocean are celebrated on World Whale Day, which aims to raise awareness of these magnificent creatures. The annual holiday was founded in Maui, Hawaii, in 1980, to honour humpback whales, which swim off its coast. It’s the main showcase of the Maui Whale Festival.
Every year, crowds flock to the island to join in the free all-day event, organised by the Pacific Whale Foundation. The fun starts with a parade including floats, costumed characters and children’s events, plus music from Hawaiian and international stars.

However, you don’t have to visit Maui to mark this special day. Whales need support from wildlife lovers everywhere to meet conservation threats such as loss of habitat and pollution, so a perfect way to celebrate the day would be to take part in a fundraising event wherever you live. You’ll have a whale of a time and aid a great cause!