SRI LANKAN ORCAS: AN OVERVIEW
The orcas that visit the waters of Sri Lanka are not well known and are quite mysterious; in fact, only 11 individuals have been identified. The Orca Project Sri Lanka was started in 2013 in order to better understand the orcas that frequent the island. Even though there are many unanswered questions about these whales, here’s what we do know:
- They are likely wide-ranging, mammal-eating orcas.
- They have been seen preying upon sperm whales, beaked whales and blue whales; the most recent and well-documented attack on sperm whales by orcas in Sri Lanka can be seen here.
- Orcas have been seen near Mirissa, Kalpitya, and Trincomalee.
Sri Lanka is an island off the southern tip of India:
As you can see, orcas have been spotted all around the island.
Because Sri Lankan orcas are so elusive and hard to find, only 11 individuals have been successfully photo-identified and cataloged. All orcas are assigned a code, and a nickname. Let’s look at the male orca OM005 “Titan”. The ‘O’ stand for orca, and the ‘M’ stand for Mirissa, the place he was first spotted. and ‘005” means he was the 5th whale to be added to the catalog. All of the whales’ ID codes start out with “O”, but the second letter depends on where they were first seen. It can either be “M” for Mirissa, “K” for Kalpitya, or “T” for Trincomalee, or “O” for other.
Here are the ID charts for all 11 cataloged whales:
First photo: OM005 Titan attacking sperm whales by Shawn Heinrichs
Second photo: OM001 King by ChrisR
Third photo: OK008 Arya by Michaela Hanusova
Fourth photo: OM004 Ripple during a sperm whale attack by Shawn Heinrichs