From Sri Lanka, she is a Marine Biologist and the founder of ‘The Sri Lankan Blue Whale Project.’ She is a whale conservationist and shared the powerful message that whales must be protected because they play a crucial role in the health of the world’s oceans.
Q & A
Tell us more about ‘The Sri Lankan Blue Whale Project’?
It is the first long-term research project on blue whales of the Northern Indian Ocean, they were an undiscovered population of blue whales. They are the largest animals that have ever roamed the planet they can grow between 80-100 feet. There are a lot of human impact in our oceans that could potentially drive these whales away. For me I wanted to learn more about this population, and help to protect and conserve them for the future. I work with the government and policy makers to try to drive a positive change for these whales.
Are the Sri Lankan Blue Whales accessible? Can we visit them?
Sri Lanka is very unique, in that you can see blue whales close to shore. We do have a whale watching industry in Sri Lanka which needs to be improved on, I am looking into this next year together with the National Geographic society. Sri Lanka is unique that you can see blue whales while in your shorts and t-shirt, when usually you have to go to places where it’s cold and there is no tropical sunshine. So that’s a special thing. Blue Whales are not dangerous, because they don’t have teeth.
How do Whales play a crucial role in the Ocean’s ecosystem?
Whales are incredibly important because they are called ecosystem engineers, their presence ensures that the ocean system works the way its suppose to. With whales there are two ways that they contribute to the ocean’s health. They live at depth and come up to the surface to poop and that is full of nutrients, and works as the ocean’s natural fertilizers. Tiny plants called phyto planktons feed on this as they need the nutrients for photosynthesis to produce oxygen for our ocean. Between 50- 70% of the air we breathe actually comes from our oceans, and a part of that is fertilized by whale poop. When whales die, their carcasses provides food for the ocean’s ecosystem and as the carcass sinks to the bottom it also provides food to the depths of the ocean where such nutrients are not available. They are incredibly important for the ocean and our own survival.