SriLankan Airlines has launched the Project BLUEprint in partnership with Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), UK. The Airline and wildlife charity is working together to jointly develop a community-based responsible whale and dolphin watching industry off the coast of Sri Lanka and encourage responsible behavior amongst local boat tour operators.
The Airline will raise money for the charity through the on-board sale of plush whales, with all profits going to WDC. The partnership will engage local stakeholders and wildlife tourism industries which will help to fund and promote project BLUEprint.
Sri Lanka is one of the best countries in the world in which to enjoy whale watching, with a variety of blue whales, sperm whales and 25 other cetacean species to be seen. However, these beautiful creatures are increasingly threatened and endangered by a combination of irresponsible, unregulated whale watching and ship strikes.
To combat this, project BLUEprint aims to raise awareness, provide training and scientific support to the burgeoning industry so that whales can continue to inhabit the waters and a responsible industry can benefit local people.
The initial focus of the project is Mirissa, in the south west of the island, currently the most popular whale watching destination in Sri Lanka. Once established, responsible whale watching will be rolled into two less-developed whale watching sites, Trincomalee in the north east and Kalpitiya in the north west, to safeguard the industry before there is any rapid increase of untrained vessel operators or a lack of community leadership which can manage the growing whale watching industry as a result of an expected influx of tourists wanting to see the whales.