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September 30, 2023

MSC Alters Course to Avoid Collisions with Blue Whales, World’s Largest Mammals

One of the busiest international shipping lanes in the world, the island’s southern shore boasts an extremely high density of blue whales, which are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Campaigners assert that over a dozen of the enormous creatures, which might grow up to 30 metres long and weigh 150 tonnes, have never before lived on Earth, and have perished in collisions with commercial ships over the past ten years.

One of the largest container carriers in the world, the Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), stated on Thursday that it had voluntarily increased the distance between its routes and Sri Lanka in order to lessen the likelihood of collisions involving whales, dolphins, and porpoises.

According to the corporation, the action might minimize the strike risk by as much as 95%. In blue whale habitats, it is also directing its nearby smaller feeder vessels to slow to 10 knots. The announcement was welcomed by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, who described it as “good news for blue whales and for people.” The species’ presence has given rise to a thriving tourist whale-watching industry.

Gehan Wijeratne, a researcher and animal rights activist from Sri Lanka, claimed that the ocean floor’s geography, currents, and monsoons make the sea off southern Sri Lanka rich in nutrients and marine life. According to Wijeratne, “this extensive food web results in an area that is ideal for fishing.” Whales naturally congregate in this area, as well. He continued by saying that any action taken to increase the safety of ships and fishermen will inevitably benefit whales and whale viewing.

Leading Sri Lankan environmentalist Jagath Gunawardena told AFP that Colombo’s failure to safeguard fishermen and marine life was shown by MSC’s unilateral move.
We ought to feel ashamed of our failure, he remarked, but an international shipping firm had to take the initiative.

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