In 2011 Scubazoo visited Sri Lanka to film and photograph the huge, yet elusive, blue whale.
The biggest animal to have ever lived on this planet (bigger than even the largest dinosaur) the blue whale can reach over 32m and weigh up to 190 Tonnes. It reaches this huge size by feeding almost exclusively on tiny crustaceans known as krill. The worldwide population of blue whales was once thought to be as high as 300,000 individuals. That number was drastically reduced as commercial whaling pushed blue whales to the brink of extinction until they were protected by the international community in 1966. Worldwide there are now estimated to be only 10,000 – 15,000 blue whales.
Sri Lanka has recently come to light as probably the best location in the world for blue whale encounters. Sightings are regular enough for whale watching tourism to have begun from the ports of Mirissa and Galle in the South-West of the island during the calm season from December to April. Scubazoo were one of the very first teams to attempt to film these leviathans in Sri Lankan waters.
During February and March 2011, Scubazoo cameraman Roger Munns and photographer Jason Isley spent several weeks in Sri Lanka filming and photographing blue whales. The blue whales found off Sri Lanka’s coast are a subspecies of Balaenoptera musculus although there is some debate as to whether they are B. m. brevicauda or B. m. indica. Whatever their classification they were extremely shy and difficult to approach in comparison to other whales we’ve worked with. Surprising for such a huge animal with so few natural predators. There were other significant hurdles to approaching the whales such as the lack of suitable boats. Sri Lanka has only just emerged from the shadow of its long civil war and, although it is opening up, restrictions on items like boat engines are still in place. To move quietly through the water you need a four-stroke outboard engine. These have been banned for several years and are still virtually impossible to obtain. For large parts of the shoot we were reduced to using noisy and slow inboard engines or underpowered 25hp two-strokes – far from ideal.
Despite the logistical difficulties perseverance paid off and after spending over 200hrs out on the ocean Jason and Roger managed to get rare underwater and topside HD video footage and photos of the blue whales in Sri Lanka.
Please contact our footage library manager to license underwater High Definition (HD) footage and photos of blue whales underwater. For more information on filming blue whales in Sri Lanka please contact us.
Update: Shortly after the initial trip, Roger Munns returned to film the blue whales for ‘Sunday Night’ – an Australian ch.7 production. As well as providing underwater filming, Scubazoo were location managers for the show, managing permits and logistics. Using experience and lessons learnt from the first shoot the production was extremely successful and went to air on April 10th 2011 read our blog on the shoot for more details. Roger has since been back to film blue whales underwater in Sri Lanka in 2012 and 2013 for different broadcast productions including Wild Sri Lanka – Ocean of Giants for Terramater.