Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Humbled by Nature

Last Sunday, I had one of the most outstanding experiences of my life.

The southernmost tip of Sri Lanka is the best place in the world to see blue and sperm whales. It’s remarkable that the world didn’t know about it till 2008. And since then, a sleepy fishing village called Mirissa becomes alive with travelers from distant lands during the whale watching season, which falls between October and April. Many species of Dolphins are also sighted in the area.

About 25 of us from different parts of the world boarded a small boat from Mirissa fishery harbor at 6: 30 am and turned into Captain Ahabs looking for Moby Dick. The Organizers (Mirissa Water Sports Crew) had told us that Lady Luck needs to be happy with us for the whale-sighting to happen. The believers amongst us would have started off on a prayer or two.

The whales are usually seen at 10 -12 nautical miles (about 6kms away) away from the coast of Mirissa, which is about 2 hours into the ocean.

A dull hour and a half passed without any action except that some of us started to get sea sick. The sharp sun and the Titanic type rocking of the boat were adding to their miseries.

Suddenly someone cried, ‘Look there….Dolphin’. And the entire boat sprung into action. All sorts of cameras came out. Life came back in the form of these sprightly, jumping, spinning, happy Dolphins all around us.

I had seen Dolphins in the sea earlier but that totally paled in front of this experience. It was as if hundreds of them had got together to put up a performance for us which they have been practicing for a while. It was as if they were telling us that they are equally happy to see us.

In the span of next 45 minutes we saw some 3 species of Dolphins. Spinner, Bottlenose and Risso’ s The last one is a rare sight and smiles the most.

Then, we moved on to find the world’s largest living species. By now, I was beginning to get sea sick. I had never been in the deep sea and or this long in all my life.

An impatient fellow started yelling, ‘Where is the Whale’? Another pessimist one said in a thick British accent, ‘We maay not see it, after all’.

And then, one of the crew shouted, ‘Whaaaaale’. What I saw next will stay with me for the rest of my life. I stood there, in that rocking boat, completely humbled by nature, yet again.

That Sunday morning, we saw four different blue whales. The fact that I got six good shots (3 of them are here) of them on my newly acquired SLR, is the icing on the cake. The whales and the dolphins were its first few shots. What a start!


Bhaskar Khaund said...

Wow ! Awesome , man,just awesome !how far from colombo is this ?

affie said...

Well done Meraj .... Fantastic photography buddy!! Good start on you slr journey! Once you go nikon you just stick on!!!! Wooohooo

mr bojangles said...

so much blue! and what a description - too much only!!

Namas said...

actually what a start! n must say that ur writing style has evolved...thoroughly mesmerised by the description..gr8 post!

Pooja Nair said...

I can see that you too have begun to sense it when animals talk to you...its wonderful isn't it?! :D

Sriram said...

ya.. what a start! btw, How far where the whales and dolphins from the boat?

Rahul Jauhari said...


Mohammed said...

Nice Photos Meraj... and the story brings out the essence of the trip... It was great to be a part of what was a great and successful trip... to see such beasts of the sea simly took my breadth away!!! Keep up the great work with the camera bro!!!

Smiling Dolphin said...

very very happy for you, that you got to enjoy this out of the world experience. and what phenomenal pix! get yourself a cd of whale song, it will blow your mind.

ilegirl said...

What an awesome experience!

meraj said...

@ Bhaskar, this place is just about 3 & 1/2 hrs drive from Colombo. and all you need is one weekend in Sri Lanka to do this...interested?

@ affie, thanks for the appreciation. hope to take this further

@ mr bojangles,
yeah, the blueness of the sea is stunning and an SLR just helps capture it right.

@ Namas,
thanks for appreciating the writing.

@ Pooja,
yeah it is :)

@ Sri,
the whales were about 20 - 25 ft away from the boat

@ Rahul,
its easy to do...3 hrs flight from Mumbai, another 4 hrs to Mirissa and you can do it. as i said, one weekend in Sri Lanka is all you need.

@ Mohammed,
thanks...it ws a great trip!

@ Smiling One,
you were in my mind while those dolphins were smiling around me.

@ ilegirl,
it was an awesome experience indeed.

junk said...

why is a sperm whale called so?

meraj said...


wiki says: The name comes from the milky-white waxy substance, spermaceti, found in the animal's head, due to its resemblance to semen.