The monthly lecture series of the WNPS is now a monthly gathering looked forward to by both the membership and the general public. The depth of knowledge shared in the 60 minute lecture by an excellent line up of speakers has not only enriched the audience but has enabled the society to initiate measures in various conservation fronts.
Marine mammals in Sri Lankas waters include whales, dolphins, porpoises and the dugong. All of these marine mammals spend their entire life cycle in the ocean. Therefore, when marine mammals come ashore it is immediately obvious that something is very wrong. So, lets discus why and how this happens, and what we should do when it happens. When marine mammals get beached or stranded out of the water it is a very dangerous situation for them as they cannot survive very long away from their natural aquatic environment due to several reasons. As a result, when live strandings occur it is of the utmost importance to try to help these animals as quickly as possible. However, it is equally important to handle such situations in a manner that does not add to the distress of the stranded animal or injure it further in the process of trying to help it. When we talk about strandings however, this also includes the carcasses of already dead animals that wash up on our beaches. While in the case of live strandings the priority should be to help the animals get back in the water, for researchers carcasses of dead animals can be equally important as they can provide an immense amount of vital information. Therefore, it is important to have proper protocols in place to deal with all marine mammal strandings particularly in countries like Sri Lanka where we have high diversity and year-round occurrence.
Anouk has studied marine mammals in the waters around Sri Lanka since 1985 and has a Master of Science degree based on her research on small cetaceans off the west coast. In addition to her work in Sri Lanka, over the past two decades she has been involved in several marine mammal research initiatives in the south and southeast Asian region including projects in Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Bangladesh and India. She is a member of the Cetacean Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, the Aquatic Mammals Working Group of the Convention on Migratory Species Scientific Council and the Sirenian Specialist Group (Indian Ocean Region). She published the first guidebook on the whales and dolphins of Sri Lanka in 2002. She has also contributed chapters for several other books both national and international on the subject of cetaceans and sirenians and has published over 50 scientific papers in peer reviewed journals. She was also the recipient of the President’s Award for Scientific Publication in 2014.