Saving the Unorthodox Whales of Sri Lanka

THU, NOV 12, 2015 (00:00)

Sri Lankan blue whales are a unique, non-migrating, endangered subspecies. They breed six months out of phase with other pygmy blue whales in the Southern Hemisphere, are half a meter shorter and have a unique vocal call. Most unusually, this population does not migrate to Polar regions, but remains in warm tropical waters year-round. Their confinement within the Northern Indian Ocean makes this population increasingly vulnerable to human activities. In particular, their high-use areas overlap with one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, and whale deaths due to ship-strikes are well documented and likely to increase. This talk describes ongoing efforts to mitigate whale death by ships and highlight the importance of coupling both science and engagement for the long-term protection of this unique population of blue whales. Image:

+ BIO: Asha de Vos

Asha de Vos is a marine biologist and educator with a strong affinity for marine mammals. Armed with degrees from the Universities of St. Andrews, Oxford and Western Australia, she aims to increase the conversation about conservation through innovative outreach tools, strong international collaborations and good quality science. Her main research focuses on the blue whale populations around Sri Lanka and forms the first long-term study on this species within the northern Indian Ocean. Currently a post-doctoral scholar at the University of California Santa Cruz, she is working with a team of scientists to try to mitigate the impact of ship strike on this unique population of blue whales.

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