As big as buses they may be, but whales can be stressed out by boatloads of eager sightseers buzzing them in their natural habitat, and so fashion retailer Odel has made responsible whale-watching its cause for World Animal Day 2014.
An awareness campaign that seeks to protect the giant cetaceans that cruise the seas off Sri Lanka’s north western, southern and north eastern coasts has been launched by the country’s top fashion retailer as part of its annual commitment to promoting animal conservation in support of World Animal Day, celebrated around the world on 4th October.
“These majestic animals are great to admire but as with all animals we do need to give them their space,” said Otara Gunewardene, founder and CEO of Odel. “Irresponsible whale watchers can drive whales away from the island, sometimes towards busy shipping lanes resulting in ship strikes that injure or kill them. With the increase of tourism the number of boats is increasing, so together let’s do it responsibly so the animals are protected and people still get to enjoy their beauty.”
As part of its campaign, Odel has produced a whale-inspired range of products including T shirts, mugs, soft toys and stationery. Part of the profits from their sale is to be contributed to Sri Lanka’s first Responsible Whale Watching Accreditation programme in Mirissa conducted by Friends of the Sea, a non-profit, non-governmental organisation whose mission is the conservation of the marine habitat.
Additionally, on 4th October, nearly 500 children and their parents are expected to attend an educational programme at Odel’s Alexandra Place store to learn about these giant mammals of the ocean; their habitat, their lifestyle, from what they need to be saved and why.
Sri Lanka lies within the International Whaling Commission’s protected zone in the Indian Ocean. The most popular ports for whale watching excursions are Alankuda beach in Kalpitiya, Mirissa, Dondra and Trincomalee. Because of the proximity of the southern tip of the island to the deep waters of the continental shelf, Sri Lanka is one of the places where whales come in closest to land.
Celebrating World Animal Day annually with activities that tangibly advance the causes of conservation and responsible interaction with animals is one of Odel’s commitments to the planet. Last year, Odel chose Sri Lanka’s endemic crocodiles as its World Animal Day project, and raised funds for the first ever census in the country of these aquatic tetrapods.