Planet ocean

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 It's the end of an exciting day on the coast of Sri Lanka. We used the whole day to look out for Blue Whales (Balaenoptera musculus), which are supposedly residential here year round. We only have a rough idea where to look - at Dondra Head, the southernmost tip of Sri Lanka -  and so we decide to spend one day cruising around where the continental slope drops from 60 m very fast to over 1.000 m. The day before we where already surprised by one Blue Whale in shallow water. The water was quite choppy and this individual was coming up for air about 150 m on our starboard side and swam behind us towards the open sea. How impressive and promising! The biggest animals on our planet and they really live right here!
After a very turbulent night on our anchorage, with big waves all night, we leave in the early morning hours towards the south and start our search. The visibility across the water is very good with approximately 3 to 4 nautical miles at sea level and almost no waves. The morning is very quiet and there is not a lot to see. But at midday a big group of Long-Snouted Spinner Dolphins (Stenella longirostris) comes towards our boat and we sail with them for a little while. At one point we decide to let them go on and prepare for our lunch. But as soon as we are ready to sit down Sonja recognizes an unusual “wave” and suddenly there are two Blue Whales in front of us. We are exited and happy and sail with them for a while. After a dive phase of about 10 min. they come up and breath a few times before they dive again, while presenting us with their fluke. They radiate calmness and peacefulness while they prepare for their next dive, it would make every apnea diver envious. A beautiful sight! Unfortunately we loose them at some point, which seems ridiculous considering their size. But they can dive and swim  longer distances under water and their blow is not so easy to spot as we thought it would be.
We decide to continue to sail around and look for more individuals in the afternoon. In the early evening hours, just as we are ready to sail on towards the Maldives and the dinner is almost ready, it gets exciting. Again Sonja discovers a blow in the distance. Just one? – no lots of blows!!! In the center of the shipping lane there are about 8 to 10 Blue Whales. All around us the giants of the sea are coming up to breath and dive again while presenting us with their gigantic flukes. We assume they are feeding and they don't seem to be disturbed by us. One of them comes pretty close to the boat and he dives shortly before we bump into him. They behave like a school of dolphins only more calmly. Normally they are supposed to swim alone or in small groups of two to four individuals. But in this case there a really lots of them which is extraordinary. A wonderful day is almost over and it even gets better as one of them waves goodbye with his fluke in front of the sunset. We happily bid farewell to Sri Lanka and continue towards the southwest.

Long snouted Spinner Dolphins and Sri Lanka Fishing Boat
Long snouted Spinner Dolphins - Stenella longirostris
Blue Whale - Balaenoptera musculus - spout
Blue Whale - Balaenoptera musculus - fluke
Blue Whale - Balaenoptera musculus - back
Blue Whale - Balaenoptera musculus - fluke
Blue Whale - Balaenoptera musculus - fluke
Blue Whale - Balaenoptera musculus - on collision course