Observe sea mammals in their habitat by feediving – Snorkeling with whales

(1 customer review)

You have few ways to plan your snorkeling with whales tour. One option is joining-in to a fixed-date on a sharing boat in Mirissa , Trino or in Kalpitiya. Another option is chartering a personal boat or yacht in a place you like. Third option is deciding where to go according to latest sightings, after arriving in the island. Read bellow for prices and all other info.  (updated on : 14 Apr 2022)

Dispa Rock Mirissa Sri Lanka
Diving with Whales - Sri Lanka
Whales Sri Lanka
Snorkeling with Blue Whales
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Intro

We organise your personal snorkeling trip with whales and photographic experience of sea mammals in Sri Lankan water. We try to give a lot of attention to mammal's experiences with us too in the water. We want all to have pleasant encounters always.

Info about coming group sailing.

Mirissa (dates are not yet decided) - Confirmation needed before (dates are not yet decided) 2023.
Trinco (dates are not yet decided) - Confirmation needed before (dates are not yet decided) 2023.
Kalpitiya (dates are not yet decided) - Confirmation needed before (dates are not yet decided) 2023.

In Kalpitiya, one customer interested in a sharing option from February 27h until March 2023.


In Mirissa, for underwater photographers, the best visibility and sea conditions prevail from mid February to mid April.

Generally speaking, calmer beach season in Mirissa starts from October. Blues, Sperms, Pilot Whales, Dolphins and Whale Sharks are always there in Mirissa.  There are there, especially, it seems, in off seaso. It means from April to October. This is the time to take a local flight and observe mammals from the air.

To be honest with you, growing number of whale watching boats (40-70 or so) in Mirissa, do not realy like the underwater photographers/snorkelers in their waters. And these boat owners show same displeasure towards the boat owners who accommodate those snorkelers, legally and illegally. And there is also a widespread superstitious belief in Mirissa. They believe underwater observers of sea mammals bring bad luck to whole industry. In reality, however, those who are usually taking irresponsible snorkelers onboard illegal, actually make the whales travel distance from the shore. If you are interested in our take on this issue, please have a look at this video. However, these ground realities are somewhat reflected in the attitude of Government Wildlife Officers.

If you take a boat to take underwater photographs of sea mammals in Mirissa, it is most likely that a Wildlife officer will be on-board with you.

In Trinco, for underwater photographers, the best underwater visibility and sea conditions prevail from mid February to September. However, mammals are usually seen from February to mid April and again from August to September. Trinco records slightly lesser degree of encounters of whales than in Mirissa.

Generally speaking, in mid February to mid April, Trinco hosts a wide variety of whale and dolphin species. This is the best time of the year to see Beaked Whales and the largest aggregations of Bryde's Whales. Blues and Sperms are spotted in their largest numbers between October and April. Orcas are most frequently spotted in September. Pilot Whales and False Killer Whales are spotted between March and June. Spinner dolphins are found almost daily in and around Koddiyar Bay during the morning hours.

Most common boats used in Trinco are 18-21 fts long dinghies with kerosene engines with 20-40 hp. Some of them have sunshades. We also have access to a fleet of ultra modern catamarans with cabins for overnight stays. We also have one nicely refurbished lobster hull boat and speedboat in Trinco. Check it out your options here.

In Trinco, the Wildlife Department and Coast Guards are yet to gear up to monitor permits.

In Kalpitiya, for underwater photographers, the best underwater visibility and sea conditions prevail from mid February to mid April. Kalpitiya is another unique place in Sri Lanka. Best Sperm whales sightings recorded in Sri Lanka are so far recorded in Kalpitiya. There have been sightings of Humpback and Killer Whales too in Kalpitiya.

Kalpitiya is unique because its close proximity to larger Indian peninsular. Phytoplankton and zooplankton accumulated in Gulf of Manna as a result of Southwest monsoon rain and wind gushing through Kerala in India makes this area very rich with all sort of marine mammals, including Du gongs. Sri Lanka's largest lively coral reef is also located just off the coast of Kalpitiya.

We could arrange a speed boat or a catamaran in Kalpitiya in the season if you are interested in hiring the boat for more than 7 days. Check it out here. Otherwise, there are 18-21 fts long dinghies with kerosene engines with 20-40 hp.

If you are a risk taker - If you are a calculated risk taker (then we will absolutely love to serve you), with some spare cash, we have few suggestions to explore with no bureaucratic red-tapes and human traces around!

Terms and conditions

Booking : Book online, call us or drop us an email.
Price :
 The price may slightly go up or down at the time of booking.
Payment : Full payment is settled prior starting the tour/excursion.
Days of the tour or the hours of excursion : The tour or the excursion is completed within mentioned time.
Per hour vehicle detention fee : 3 USD - Tuk Tuk / 5 USD Standard car & van
Weather : If weather conditions are unfavourable activities will be adjusted accordingly.
Today's Marine Forecast : Sri Lanka Department of Meteorology / Buoyweather
Transportation to a destination : Click Here to reserve with an excursion.
Refund : Refund will be determined after reducing third party's and our costs.

About this freediving

Best season : Second, Third & Forth weeks of December & from mid February to mid April
Available : Daily
Best time to start : Early mornings (we change the time depending on local eventualities)
Arranging time needed : Two weeks (to acquire filming permit)

Starting point : Kalpitiya, Mirissa and Trinco
Activity starting time : Usually around 6 AM / In Mirissa after 11.30 AM
Whole touring hrs : 3-6 hrs (depends)
Number of snorkelers : If you really care about the animal, stick to 3-4 snorkelers the most.

Be mindful : A wildlife officer will be onboard the boat. Copy of your videos/photos needed to submit to Wildlife Department - watermarks can be used on them.

Restrictions : One of our staff members will impose strict monitoring of boat maneuvers and underwater photographers. Sudden boat maneuvers and accelerations are discouraged. No animal touching encouraged. Please keep your plastics within the boat. Copy of your production must be submitted to us before you depart.

Probability of taking good photographs : 20% per day / 100% - if tried 5 days.

A good snorkeler : Uses fins and snorkels in submissive colors / do not make noises jumping into water and snorkeling.

Sri Lankan sea water temperature : Above 20°C/68°F all year around. Usually around 27-28°C. Check today's temperature.

Option 1
Fixed-date & sharing

Dinghy boat - 250 USD per person in Trinco, Kalpitiya & Mirissa - Minimum 3 or Max 4 snorkelers needed to run the operation
Speed boat - 300 USD per person in Mirissa - Minimum 3 or Max 4 snorkelers needed to run the operation

Price includes : Filiming permit from Willdlife Department with your name on the permit / Our administrative fee / Boat / Professional skipper / Seeker / Fresh fruits / Bottled waters / All Gov taxes.

Not included :
- 25 USD - per day - our company person on board (this is a mandatory expense) /
- 8 USD or 20 USD - Park entrace fee - (8 USD per person, per day, in Kalpitiya & Trinco & 20 USD per person, per day, in Mirissa.) /
- 8 USD - Fins and mask per pare (recommend bringing your personal gear).

Option 2
Charting your own boat

Dinghy boat - 250 USD per boat in Trinco, Kalpitiya & Mirissa
Speed boat - 500 USD per boat in Mirissa

Price includes : Boat / Professional skipper / Seeker / Fresh fruits / Bottled water (2 liters each) / All Gov taxes.

Not included :
- Filming permit - 250 USD for one day / 350 USD for 2-6 days / 400 USD for 7-13 days / 450 USD for 14-20 days / 500 USD for 21-30 days. /
- One time payment of our administrative fee to acquire permits - (150 USD per first person and 50 USD for each additional person) /
- 25 USD - per day - our company person on board (this is a mandatory expense) /
- 8 USD or 20 USD - Park entrace fee - (8 USD per person, per day, in Kalpitiya & Trinco & 20 USD per person, per day, in Mirissa.) /
- 8 USD - Fins and mask per pare (recommend bringing your personal gear).

Option 3
Deciding where to go once you are arrived in the Island.

It is nearly impossible to predict if the mammals be there in a certain place in a certain time of the day. So, why would not you come to Sri Lanka first - and then ask us to take to where the mammals are? Email us to arrange your trip.

Option 4
Charter an ultra modern yacht & speedboats.

We have access to few catamarans with cabins and speedboats. On those catamarans, well equipped with on-board kitchen, the chef and the staff will look after you fine! Standby safety craft offers you the freedom. Of cause, anchoring near the shore for land accommodation is also possible. Email us to arrange your trip.

Optional : Snorkelling guide 80 USD per trip / Pro underwater photographer 200 USD per day / Rent a pro underwater camera, here.

Feedback us : Our drivers and service providers are advised not to promote any other activities outside of our acknowledgment, established personal contacts or nudge you for shopping. Please leave your feedback about our services on our Google feedback page.

You may bring : Motion sickness pills / Hat and sun glass / Sun cream / Camera


We love holiday planning!

History

In February 2016 we organised an underwater photo expedition to take photos of Blue whales. And the result was groundbreaking! See the related publications of our photos on Fisheye; Sink and Swim; Redbull, Daily Mail UK and Dive Photo Guide.

Marianne Aventurier, A French animal right activist and a great underwater choreographer, and a great photographer, Alex Barnab Voyer and Roubaud Alexandre, were our first group. We dragged them into Mirissa and then they dragged us into this, in a nice way! We were all legal!

Doing that, we gathered rare insight into the responsibility we shall bare towards these animals from Marianne Aventurier and risks involved in this activity.

Soon after few other expeditions followed, the Wildlife Department of Sri Lanka, however, intertwined in this particular activity, and made it a very strict activity for a while. We also welcomed this strict approach at the time for the sake of mammals. The scientific data collection mission started by the WLD to find out the effect of humans on Blues in Sri Lankan water had abruptly stopped in 2016.


Year 2017 - We acquired the permits for BBC filming crew when the WLD denied it fiercely.


Present Law - Marine Mammal Observation Regulations, No. 1 of 2012. Read here

Proposal made in 2016 by WLD -  Read here


What is filiming permit

In order to take official photographs and videos within wildlife protected areas (WPAs), you need to take permission from Wildlife Department of Sri Lanka. Even outside of this WPAs, the wellbeing of animals come within the scope of their legal mandate. So this permit is issused for a certain WPA for a certain day.

Only Director General of Sri Lankan Wildlife Department in Colombo can issue this permit on request. To obtain a filiming permit it could take about 2-3 weeks.

Cost of Filming permit in Sri Lanka

250 USD for one day
350 USD for 2-6 days
400 USD for 7-13 days
450 USD for 14-20 days
500 USD for 21-30 days.

If you visit two WPAs, then you need to apply for two permits.

This is how a personal permit look like, here.


Conclusion

It is illegal to snorkel & take underwater photographs of/with marine mammals in Sri Lankan water without a personal filming permit issuded by the Wildlife Department of Sri Lanka.

But most of the time snorkelers do so without knowing the real information about this activity or they are misguided or misinformed by local travel agent or boat operators. However, if you happen to be snorkeling without a filming permit in Sri Lankan water with whatever the reason you may have, we suggest, you may keep yourself away from the Sri Lankan Wildlife officers, Navy and Coastguards.

Enjoy you lifetime experience responsibly. Respect the space of animals also!

Some videos

How to Observe Sea Mammals

Blue Whales

Blue Whales Lunge For Dinner

'Flirting' Blue Whales

Whale food: Krill

1 review for Observe sea mammals in their habitat by feediving – Snorkeling with whales

  1. Tara

    I booked with cctsl in hopes of filming blue whales; they were honest with me while we were corresponding stating whale sightings were very scarce in the area that I was hoping to travel to. Knowing about the uncertainty of nature and “no guarantees” I decided to take the gamble…I’m glad I did! Out of the 3 days to sea, I got a very calm blue whale (the same one!) on 2 of those days. We also saw a brydes whale, dwarf sperm whale and spinner dolphins. I will definitely book with CCT the next time I visit Sri Lanka!

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