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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

World's largest blue whale colony?

As it happens, the channel 7 documentary on the amazing blue whales of Sri Lanka is doing its rounds again. But this time, it is accompanied by the title 'World's largest blue whale colony discovered in Sri Lanka' or 'World's largest blue whale discovered in Sri Lanka'. I guess this is where I set the record straight.....

Firstly, we do not have an inkling about how big or small the population of blue whales that visit our waters is.....the one thing we do know is that they are the least known population in the world and we are only beginning to unravel their secrets. On top of this, they are by no means the largest blue whales in the world...the whales around Sri Lanka are actually a variety of pygmy blue whale and as the name implies, they are smaller (25m vs. 30m!) than the blue whales off places like California. 

What is most important however is that we don't lose our fascination just because this particular population isn't the largest...Blue whales as a species (all the different populations in the world) do represent the largest animal to ever roam the planet after all. The mere fact that we live side by side with these giants should encourage us to work together to protect them for future generations. Do you feel lucky?

Monday, December 5, 2011


It's been silent around here and I apologise - but I do have a justification. Last week was the 3rd annual Australia National Network in Marine Science conference. Its an event that brings together early career researchers from James Cook University, Queensland, the University of Tasmania, Hobart and the University of Western Australia. Appropriately, the theme of the conference was “Marine Science in Tropical, Temperate and Southern Oceans”. ANNIMS presents a great opportunity to learn about science happening around Australia, network and exchange ideas.

The paper I presented discussed drivers of inter-annual variability in blue whale distribution off Southern Sri Lanka. Basically, what causes changes in where we see the blue whales from year to year. I got some interesting feedback that will help me move forward with the work and have a more complete analysis for presentation at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in Salt Lake City next year.

I hope you all had a peaceful two weeks - don't get too used to it :)