A few days ago we were cruising around looking for whales when we had an amazing encounter with a feeding mother-calf pair of Bryde’s. My jaw was on the floor for the entire time but sadly that moment was shared with about 10-15 whale watch boats as it happened just outside the mouth of the Weligama Bay. I generally avoid the whale watch boats because their hounding behaviours disturb the natural behaviour of the whales and thereby disrupt my research on their ‘natural’ behaviours. However, sometimes there are moments that are impossible to drive away from and this was definitely one of them. In those instances, we usually hang back and try to keep pace with the animals while not getting in the chaos of the bigger boats. We hope that the big boats will move away sooner rather than later and then we can sit and observe and take notes. While watching these whales feeding voraciously we started to notice swarms of tiny shrimp-like creatures in the water. Given my propensity for collecting things (my research permit from the Department of Wildlife Conservation covers these particular items specifically) we stopped and dropped our very sophisticated scooping device into the water (a tea strainer) to collect a bunch of these little critters. We got some and the swarm quickly dispersed. The excitement on the boat was ridiculous! Everyone was cheering and clapping and that led some of the whale watch boats that had decided to leave to turn right around and come back! It was funny watching people’s faces as we told them what we were really up to
Now to figure out what these creatures really are! Looking forward to this new adventure at the end of my field season. Super happy with my new (preserved) pets and staying excited for the next big event!