CRIOMM - The Centre for Research on Indian Ocean Marine Mammals is solely dedicated to research on marine mammals and their environment. It serves as national forum and focal point for such activities working in close co-operation with the universities and government agencies as competent entities in a number of countries. 

Another step forward for Gentle Giants!

May 10, 2015

News 1st broadcasted on Sunday May 10, 2015 to millions of viewers in Sri Lanka:

7pm - Sirasa TV - Sinhala News Video

8pm - Shakti TV - Tamil News Video

9pm - MTV Sports & Shakti TV - English News (Video on right)

Trailer was shown 55 mins past the hour on MTV Sports Live @55 throughout the day.


For the first time in Sri Lanka, aerial cameras were used to study whale and dolphin movements and behaviours. This technology enables study of the animals from a distance without disturbance like never before and take footage that could never be seen normally.


Key conservation messages broadcast are:

- Whales and dolphins populations must now be allowed to recover from past whaling and fishing activities that dramatically reduced their numbers.

- In addition to government agencies, each and every one of us must take responsibility for their protection.

- Existing regulations need to be tightened and better enforced.

- We are visitors in their domain and must allow the mammals to decide on the agenda.

News 1st Bulletin on MTV Sports

Exciting discovery of new whale in Sri Lankan waters!

October 1, 2014

Marine mammal lovers will be awed by the fact that a new whale has been identified in Sri Lankan waters. Whether this majestic creature is actually Eden's whale remains to be confirmed. However, evidence appears to be pointing in that direction. Nevertherless its a new whale that needs to be recorded separate from other similar whales.

Large form Bryde's whale (Bryde's whale)

Small form Bryde's whale (Eden's whale)

Read the news release to discover more about this fascinating subject.

New Humpback Whale Subspecies Revealed

May 21, 2014

“Despite seasonal migrations of more than 16,000 km return, humpback whale populations are actually more isolated from one another than we thought. Their populations appear separated by warm equatorial waters that they rarely cross,” said Dr Jennifer Jackson, lead author in a Press Release.


“The colour of the bodies and undersides of the tail (the ‘flukes’) of humpback whales in the northern oceans tend to be much darker than those in the Southern Hemisphere. Until this study we didn’t realise that these kinds of subtle differences are actually a sign of long-term isolation between humpback populations in the three global ocean basins.


“Using genetic samples, collected from free-swimming whales with a small biopsy dart, we’ve been able to look at two types of humpback DNA; the mitochondrial DNA 

which is inherited from the mother, and the nuclear DNA which is inherited from both parents. The mitochondrial DNA allows us to build up a picture of how female humpbacks have moved across the globe over the last million years. The nuclear DNA, which evolves more slowly, provides us with a general pattern of species movements as a whole.


“We found that although female whales have crossed from one hemisphere to another at certain times in the last few thousand years, they generally stay in their ocean of birth. This genetically isolates populations, and it appears to have created a separate subspecies.”


These findings reveal a little bit more about these massive and intriguing whales that have the longest migrations. The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Humpback whale stranding, Chilaw

There are just 9 to15 records of humpback whales in Sri Lankan waters. Humpbacks seen in Sri Lankan waters may be from as far away as the Southern Ocean or as near as the Gulf of Oman, where a population of humpbacks is thought to be resident. The last recorded sighting was a pair off Mirissa in January this year.

Resurrection of beaked whale Mesoplodon hotaula Deraniyagala 1963

Deraniyagala's Beaked Whale

Mesoplodon hotaula

Illustration: Courtesy 'Out of the Blue'

February, 2013

This month a new species of beaked whale, known as Deraniyagala's beaked whale, Mesoplodon hotaula, has been resurrected by scientists. It is the first marine mammal to be named by a Sri Lankan.


On 26 January 1963, a specimen 4.5m long, female beaked whale cast ashore at Ratmalana in a dying state. After carefully studying the dead specimen's form and structure, Dr. P.E.P. Deraniyagala (Director of the Sri Lanka National Museum 1939-1963) described it to be a new species of beaked whale belonging to the genus Mesoplodon. A couple of years later it was synonymized with the Gingko-toothed beaked whale, M. ginkgodens.

In 2012, scientists resurrected and proposed Deraniyagala's beaked whale as a new species, M. hotaula, or subspecies, M. ginkgodens hotaula. Based on scientific review, the genetic and morphological evidence has now been presented supporting the recognition of the previously synonymized species of Mesoplodon beaked whale in the tropical Indo-Pacific, known from at least seven specimens, as Mesoplodon hotaula.


Interestingly, Dr. Deraniayagala named the whale Mesoplodon hotaula. The specific name hotaula is derived from the Sinhala name 'hota ul talamaha' which translated in English is pointed beak whale or simply beaked whale. The skull of the holotype is in the Sri Lanka National Museum registered as specimen No. 3 W.S.Z.


This discovery brings the total number of Mesoplodon species to 15, making it, by far, the most speciose yet least known genus of cetaceans.



Marine Conservation Conference 2013

Decmber 14, 2013

Photos: Courtesy Sri Lanka Navy

A Marine Conservation Conference bringing together for the first time a wide cross section of experts in varied fields was held at the BMICH on December 14, 2013. This event was organized by the Indian Ocean Marine Affairs Cooperation (IOMAC) Secretariat under the leadership of Dr. Hiran Jayewardene in collaboration with several government institutions and non-government entities specialized in the field. The Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral, Jayanath Colombage delivered the keynote address.

The well-attended forum aimed at reviewing the developments and the progress made so far in order to bring about a collective partnership to achieve effective marine conservation.


Special awards were presented to several distinguished persons who had contributed to enhancing environmental conservation activities.

CRIOMM Presents at Upstream 2013

July 11, 2013

Howard Martenstyn, Director Research, CRIOMM made a 30 minute presentation on marine mammals to a standing ovation at Sri Lanka Upstream 2013 held at the Mount Lavinia Hotel. The conference organised by the Petroleum Resource Development Secretariat (PRDS) provided a platform that connected Sri Lankan companies to international operators in the Oil and Gas industry. Building on the foundation laid at similar road shows that were held in Houston, London and Singapore; the event showcased Sri Lanka’s potential in the industry to top executives representing international oil giants.

Speaking about the early days of CRIOMM, Howard went on to show the diversity and abundance of marine mammal specifies that are found in Sri Lankan waters. He pointed out geographical locations and places from where one may go whale watching. Having displayed the spectacular marine mammals, he went on to explain why Sri Lanka is one of the best places in the world to see marine mammals. Finally, Howard made the audience aware of where we are today and where we need to go as it relates to research, conservation and regulation.

Indian Ocean Marine Mammal Symposium 2011

International Symposium held on 19-20 December 2011 at the Mt. Lavinia Hotel

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