Blue Whale Tales03 Oct 2017
A friend introduced me to Rumesh while I was visiting Sri Lanka this year. We met for a surf and a chat. Talking about whales, dolphins, sea turtles, stray dogs, plastic and surfing.
Cover image (Raja and the Whales): The blue whale, a baleen whale. Up to 29.9 metres in length, with a maximum recorded weight of 173 tonnes, it is the largest animal known to have ever existed - Wikipedia
Rumesh, aged 27. Born and bred in Mirissa, Sri Lanka. Together with his brother and father, he runs a whale watching business Raja and the Whales - helping tourists appreciate the whales of Sri Lanka and assisting in cetacean research.
"In the early days my father was a fishermen who had built our small coconut leaf house without electricity and tap water. The country was so different back then, it was even more green. In 2004 the tsunami hit Sri Lanka. There was so much rubbish after the Tsunami, from the ocean and the land. So I have learned something - if you pollute nature it will punish you.
Rumesh Lakshitha / Whale Shark
In 2007 my brother taught me to surf and appreciate the water and ocean. Since that time I have fallen in love with the ocean, waves and the natural beauty of Mirissa surf point, palm trees, reef, coral, fish, turtles and sea animals. I surf everyday I can to get closer to the nature.
In 2008 my brother decided to stop fishing and do something with what he learnt from sea. So we started a whale watching company. I work on the boat specially as a guide to educate the customers and learn from them to do it better. I have participated in research about whales with international scientists and have learnt from them. A little more than just ordinary whale watcher. But I like to share my knowledge with all the people and give them ideas on how to be better for the ocean. Save the whales, make a better world for animals and people.
We are trying to be an eco friendly company and once there were only two companies back in 2008. In 2017 there are already more than 40 boats in Mirissa harbour. We see many people trying to use plastic breakfast packets for their customers and much of it is going to the sea on windy days. So my brother created the whale watching society, doing beach cleanups, putting trash bins on the street, cleaning the harbour everyday and a street dog project.
We need everyone doing something to save our beautiful environment. We now need the government to help and collect ideas from everywhere on how to do it properly. Education for all in Sri Lanka is so valuable for our environment to make this an eco friendly country.
I’m always very exciting too see the whales when ever we go out, everyday is a new day and a new experience every single time. It's such an exciting job, but it's also my passion. Surfing, whale watching and spending time on the beach rescuing turtles from fishing nets - all things I love.
There are many things still to be done. Whale watching tours need regulation, proper recycling programs, rescue teams for marine animals and reducing ship collisions with whales.
Protecting the environment means a lot to me because man-made disruptions to ecosystems can cause extinction, pollution creates dangers for both animals and people, and mankind owes the natural world gratitude. People in Sri Lanka are good people but dont know what happens when they throw plastic. We need Government rules or bans on plastic and this is coming.
Fraser’s Dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei)
After the civil war ended in 2009, tourism in Sri Lanka is rising and we can benefit by being an eco friendly country (E.g. Costa Rica). With controls on tourism, protection for trees and encouragement to grow more of them.
Tourists visit Sri Lanka for its natural beauty, we should realise this and look after nature before its too late."
Rumesh Lakshitha - Raja and the Whales.
All photos by Raja and the Whales or Rumesh
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