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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Inches from the largest animal on earth: Stunning drone footage captures lone kayaker's thrilling encounter with blue whales

Patrick Dykstra also snapped mesmerising underwater shots as he swam with the majestic creatures
  • The Denver-born filmmaker's thrilling encounters occurred in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Sri Lanka
  • His amazing footage and photos show a lone kayaker paddling just a few feet from the majestic creatures 
Denver-born filmmaker Patrick Dykstra captured stunning drone footage as blue whales swam off the coast of Sri Lanka


Denver-born filmmaker Patrick Dykstra captured stunning drone footage as blue whales swam off the coast of Sri Lanka
Patrick's thrilling encounters with blue whales have occurred in the Indian Ocean over the course of the last six years 
Patrick's thrilling encounters with blue whales have occurred in the Indian Ocean over the course of the last six years 
The stunning drone footage captures a lone kayaker paddling just a few feet from one of the majestic creatures
The stunning drone footage captures a lone kayaker paddling just a few feet from one of the majestic creatures
The 35-year-old is the owner of Picture Adventure Expeditions, which gives holidaymakers the opportunity to encounter wild animals
The 35-year-old is the owner of Picture Adventure Expeditions, which gives holidaymakers the opportunity to encounter wild animals

The whales are the largest animal to ever inhabit the earth, and outsize even the biggest dinosaurs. 
Patrick’s stunning drone footage captures the enormous mammals from above, while in other shots a lone kayaker paddles just a few feet from one of the majestic creatures.

His astonishing underwater snaps show an awe-struck diver, dwarfed by a blue whale, swimming at the surface of the ocean without scuba gear or a snorkel.

Patrick, 35, said: ‘It was a dream of mine to encounter a blue whale underwater from the time I was 16 and I saw a life-sized replica of a blue whale in the Smithsonian museum.

Patrick Dykstra also snapped astonishing underwater shots that show an awe-struck diver dwarfed by a blue whale
Patrick Dykstra also snapped astonishing underwater shots that show an awe-struck diver dwarfed by a blue whale
The filmmaker said he had dreamed of encountering a blue whale after he saw a life-sized replica at a Washington, DC museum
The filmmaker said he had dreamed of encountering a blue whale after he saw a life-sized replica at a Washington, DC museum
At nearly 100ft in length, blue whales are the largest animal to ever inhabit the earth, and outsize even the biggest dinosaurs
At nearly 100ft in length, blue whales are the largest animal to ever inhabit the earth, and outsize even the biggest dinosaurs
Relentlessly pursued by  whaling fleets, the blue whale was nearly exterminated before receiving worldwide protection in 1967, said WWF
Relentlessly pursued by whaling fleets, the blue whale was nearly exterminated before receiving worldwide protection in 1967, said WWF

‘I spent over a decade travelling the world in search of blue whales in clear water, from Antarctica to the Azores, and came to Sri Lanka in 2009 and found the clearest water and a large whale population. 
‘Nothing on earth compares to the experience of being side by side with the largest animal to ever inhabit the planet and to dive into its environment.

‘I use my photography and videography to help study these animals in the hopes of understanding and protecting them.’
Intrepid Patrick is the owner of Picture Adventure Expeditions, which gives holidaymakers the opportunity to encounter some of the most amazing animals in the world.

He captured his videos while on trips with tourists and friends.
While in Sri Lanka earlier this year he shot the world's first footage of a baby blue whale suckling.
Patrick captured his videos while on trips with tourists and friends, and shot the world's first footage of a baby blue whale suckling
Patrick captured his videos while on trips with tourists and friends, and shot the world's first footage of a baby blue whale suckling
The blue whale has a global distribution, being found in the Arctic Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean
The blue whale has a global distribution, being found in the Arctic Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean


Friday, August 14, 2015

Monday, August 10, 2015

Annual Closure of Yala National Park - 2015

Please be informed that the Yala National Park will be closed from 7th September to 7th October 2015 according to the Department ofWildlife Conservation.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Green Sri Lanka: Jetwing Vil Uyana Eco Resort

 by 


Responsible Travel

Green Sri Lanka – Accommodation

Getting personal and respecting mother earth in a luxury eco resort.

There are many luxury hotels in the world. From the frozen north of Canada to the sweltering south of Namibia, you will find top class hotels with excellent service. The trouble with a lot of these places is that they are just too similar and lack in personality.
This a hotel where personality goes a long way.
Jetwing Vil Uyana Eco Resort
From the bell boy right up to the manager, the staff at this hotel have a pride in their work and clearly care about what they do and where they work. When we arrived we were greeted like old friends. This was not your standard professional 5 star service, this was a genuine glad to see you moment. We instantly felt at home.
When we actually got to our room, we didn’t want to leave. With beautiful wooden furnishings throughout and surrounded by lush gardens, this was a room where you can finally tackle War and Peace. What with it’s inside and outside bathroom, you could stay in your room and never see the rest of the hotel.

Jetwing Vil Uyana Eco Resort
Image by: Jetwing Vil Uyana
That would be a big mistake.
The real magic in Jetwing Vil Uyana is outside your beautiful room.
Jetwing Vil Uyana Eco Resort
The hotel sits on a man-made lake and wetland area that was inspired by the London Wetland centre. Instead of building lots of rooms and villas, the team at Jetwing decided to build their own nature reserve instead. You see what I mean about a hotel with personality! All of the rooms are near fields, the lake or paddy fields. Half a hectare of the Hotel’s land is used to grow paddy using traditional and organic harvesting methods; three hectares are dominated by wetland habitats and their associated flora and fauna; two hectares have been reforested using species native to the dry zone.
Jetwing Vil Uyana Eco Resort
Jetwing Vil Uyana Eco Resort
Having this environment right next to your room is a nature lover’s paradise. So far over 112 species of birds, 20 species of mammals, 36 butterfly species and 35 species of reptiles and amphibians have been recorded at Jetwing Vil Uyana. You wont need to travel far to see the local wildlife! Egrets, Kingfishers, Storks and even crocodiles have popped up by the lake from time to time.
The star of the show has to be the Loris.
Jetwing Vil Uyana Eco Resort
Image by: Creative Commons
The team at Jetwing were in the process of building more villas and rooms when Chaminda the in-house naturalist identified the grey slender Loris. Knowing how endangered these animals are, he put a stop to the planned construction and asked the head office to come down from Colombo. The owner of the Jetwing chain came down himself and after hearing what Chaminda had to say, decided to cancel the planned expansion and keep the habitat for the Loris instead. If only all business owners had such vision.
Chaminda now does night-time walks at Jetwing Vil Uyana to observe the Loris in its natural habitat. It was one of the highlights of our stay in Sri Lanka observing these cute little primates and knowing their back story.
Another highlight of our stay in Sri Lanka also coincided during our visit to Jetwing Vil Uyana. Coincidence? Probably not.
Jetwing Vil Uyana Eco Resort
It was harvest season when we were there and the manager of the hotel invited us to an early morning ceremony for the harvest. It was amazing. First there was a shaman that chanted while boiling rice milk over a wooden fire. With smoke billowing up all around him, it felt like we went back in time. Most of the hotel staff were with us as were some of the local villagers. After the shaman had finished his offerings we all went into the rice field to help with the harvest.
Jetwing Vil Uyana Eco Resort
Jetwing Vil Uyana Eco Resort
Jetwing Vil Uyana Eco Resort
Karen and I were crap at cutting the rice! We realised this after looking at the manager’s pile of neatly cut rice next to us. Our “pile” on the other hand was really just a bump that was scattered all over the place. We thought we did so well too! After the rice cutting, we all helped ourselves to a traditional breakfast next to the fields. It was such a special moment. How often can you say that you helped with the harvest with the staff at a 5 star hotel and then shared breakfast together? There is that personality again!
Jetwing Vil Uyana Eco Resort
Jetwing Vil Uyana Eco Resort
Jetwing Vil Uyana Eco Resort
The Jetwing Vil Uyana is truly an eco-resort. From construction to energy conservation, the hotel strives to be as green as possible. This is not just about reusing your towels. To see a full list of the conservation practices the hotel uses, please click here: Green Directory.
It’s not all about being green though. The hotel has 4 restaurants serving delicious food in stunning settings. The spa is spectacular. We had a lovely massage overlooking the lake with candles all around us. It was bliss. The library sits on the lake with day beds for ultimate indulgence. I could have stayed there all day reading and watching the birds fly by.
Jetwing Vil Uyana Eco Resort
Jetwing Vil Uyana Eco Resort
So you see, at Jetwing Vil Uyana you get all the typical 5 star treatment like great service, fantastic facilities and beautiful rooms but you also get wildlife on your doorstep, harvest rituals and the grey slender Loris. In a word: Personality.
We were kindly invited to stay at the Jetwing Nuwara Eliya by Jetwing Hotels. As always, opinions are our own, especially about the wonderful eco practices the hotel is involved in.
Via Globalhelpswat

Loris Trail at Jetwing Vil Uyana Loris Conservation Site


Footage looks at Loris Habitats in Sri Lanka from the NatGeo series Wild Sri Lanka: Forest Clouds.
The film was shot at the Loris Conservation Site at Jetwing Vil Uyana.


Elevating Sri Lanka: Jetwing Hotels wins PATA Grand and PATA Gold Awards


Known as Sri Lanka’s premier hospitality brand, Jetwing was once again honoured with the prestigious PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) Grand Award in the Environment category for the entry titled ‘The Success of Self-Reliance’ – a thorough and comprehensive entry focusing on the sustainability initiatives undertaken at Jetwing Yala, and a PATA Gold Award (Promotional E-Newsletter) in the Marketing category for ‘The Front Desk’.
This occasion marks the third consecutive year Jetwing has won a Grand Award; and also the only Sri Lankan company to win awards this year.
The PATA Gold Awards put the spotlight on tourism innovation and excellence. This year’s awards attracted 269 entries from 83 organisations and individuals worldwide, the highest numbers since 2007. Judged by panels of experts, the PATA Awards recognise exceptional achievement in six categories: Marketing, Environment, Heritage and Culture, Education and Training, Marketing Media and Travel Journalism with Grand Awards given for four. The award ceremony will take place at the PATA Travel Mart this September, in Bangalore.
Jetwing Yala was launched in January 2014, and has quickly established itself as the premier resort in the Deep South of Sri Lanka. Featuring 80 rooms and 10 luxury tented villas, Jetwing Yala brings world class luxury and hospitality to the wilderness of Yala, in a stunning location overlooking massive sand dunes and the vibrant hues of the Indian Ocean.
The entire property was designed from ground up to be as sustainable as possible, with an acre dedicated to a solar park containing over 1000 panels, generating 40% of the hotel’s electricity demand, a biomass boiler which utilises cinnamon wood to power a vapour absorption chiller (which in turn powers air conditioning) and a composting machine that reduces processing from the standard 40 days to 14-20 days.
Functioning as the Jetwing brand’s regular communication with its public, The Front Desk provides a constant and consistent look at the company’s progress, instilling a sense of familiarity and belonging among visitors in a personal form of digital communication. The title symbolises the functions of the reception at a hotel, be it a warm welcome, acting as an information provider, and a source of communication between hotel and guest. In addition, the layout was constructed around the concept of guest relations, to provide information, generate interest, and to foster communication between Jetwing and international visitors in a professional and attractive design.
“This is a victory for Sri Lanka, and not just Jetwing,” said Hiran Cooray, Chairman of Jetwing. “If you look at all the other winners, the majority belong to the tourism authorities of countries – Hong Kong, Australia, Taiwan and Korea for example. To be recognised and winning both a Grand and a Gold Award speaks volumes about our efforts, and proves that we as a country and a company are on the right path,” he continued.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Elephant Gathering - Minneriya National Park


The 'Gathering', the largest concentration of Elephants in Asia, happens when over 300 gather on the grassland that sprouts on the receding shores of Minneriya Lake. The Gathering at Minneriya is now ranked sixth amongst the world's greatest wildlife spectacles by Lonely Planet and occurs every year from around June to October, with numbers peaking from August onwards.



















Images by Jetwing Eco Holidays naturalist guide Anura Bandara

Sri Lankan Whale Protection Area Proposed


By MarEx 2015-07-13 23:20:09

Friend of the Sea has urged the World Shipping Council to prevent whales ship strikes in Sri Lanka and worldwide. During a series of conferences in Southern Sri Lanka, Friend of the Sea’s director Dr Paolo Bray exposed the problem of the increasing number of endangered whales being killed by cargo ships strikes.

Pigmy blue whales and other whales feed and breed in the area of the Indian Ocean just South of Sri Lanka. The same area is crossed by some of the most intense cargo ships traffic in the world: over 5,000 ships per month. Dead whales are often carried on the bowls of the 300 meters long vessels. More whales are found floating or stranded with evidence of having been struck by cargo ships. In addition the ships form a “wall of noise” which negatively impacts whales feeding and breeding behavior, says Bray.

“An estimated 50 to 100 whales are struck to death each year by these vessels,” explains Bray. “Pigmy blue whales could be led to extinction in the next few years if the shipping lines continue to ignore their impact.”

Friend of the Sea has urged the World Shipping Council and the top ten shipping companies (NYK, Maersk, Evergreen Marine Corporation, CMA-CGM, MSC, Hapag-Lloyd, APL, Cosco, Hanjin, and CSCL) to immediately engage at slowing down their ships to less than 10 knots and move their lanes 15 miles South, possibly creating an Area to be Avoided.

“The World Shipping Council will be discussing the matter with member companies to consider what actions may be appropriate.” Bryan Wood-Thomas, Vice-President of the World Shipping Council has commented: “We will reach out to the government of Sri Lanka to obtain their views on the matter.”

“The shipping industry has greatly reduced its environmental impact over the years,” explains Bray. “It has also engaged to initiatives to reduce impact on whales in Canada and the U.S. It is now time for the industry to approach the issue of whale strikes globally and proactively.”

Friend of the Sea will recommend its certified seafood companies to give preference to those shipping lines engaged in preventing whale strikes in Sri Lanka and elsewhere. The requirement will be introduced in the new version of the Friend of the Sea standards.

Picture credit: Sopaka Karunasundara




Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Yala National Park to restrict use of mobile phones

Yala National Park authorities are to restrict the use of mobile phones at the peak hours of 6-9 am and 3-6 pm at Sri Lanka’s most frequented wildlife part in the south, as it is affecting animals and causing other problems, the Government said on Monday.   As a prelude to such a move, the Department of Wildlife Conservation has through the Director General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Sri Lanka requested service providers – Dialog Axiata, Mobitel, Hutchison and Etisalat to suspend their services at the park at these times during the following periods: 20 –26 July, 3–9 August, 17–23 August and 31 August–6 September. This it was stated was in order to carry out an assessment on the impact of mobile phone services in the park. “These operators have kindly agreed to comply with this request,” Monday’s announcement said.   The department said many complaints had been made that when a leopard or other interesting sighting is made by one vehicle, the “news is rapidly transmitted by means of mobile phones, attracting large numbers of vehicles to the site, causing severe congestion and spoiling the experience for everyone. In the rush to reach the site quickly, many vehicles travel at excessive speed and fail to obey road rules. This is a danger both to the park’s animals and to its visitors, and prevents law-abiding visitors from enjoying their visit”, it said.   During this period (20 July to 13 September), an assessment will be made on the impact of the mobile communications suspension on visitor behaviour. At the same time, a study will be made also of the movement of selected vehicles in the national park using GPS tracking. The results of these studies will be used for future policy-planning purposes, the department noted.   The department said it recognises the importance of mobile phone services not only to visitors to the park but also to the hotels, businesses and residences around the park that may be affected by this programme. “Any inconvenience caused by this suspension is sincerely regretted. It is hoped that all stakeholders will recognize that with over 100,000 visitors per year, Yala is not only Sri Lanka’s busiest national park but also a unique conservation site for leopards and other threatened fauna and flora. Its sustainable management is therefore a matter of national importance,” it said.