Born and brought up on the beautiful island of Sri Lanka I left her shores at the age of 18 to pursue a degree in Marine and Environmental Biology at the University of St. Andrews. After graduation I decided I had had enough of theory and headed to New Zealand to become a tent-living research assistant. Six months later after much emailing, I found myself cruising around the Maldives and Sri Lanka aboard the whale research vessel Odyssey as a deck hand and science intern. One day having seen 6 blue whales in a small area of the ocean on the southern coast of Sri Lanka I started to write my first proposal for research on this magnificent and intriguing population. I then headed to Oxford to pursue my Masters in the only course I could find that focussed on research skills and the practical side of biology. While the UK was lovely to live in, the grey weather encouraged me to move back home and start 'giving back'. I worked at IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) within the Marine Programme for 5 years while planning my escape and looking at ways to proceed with my own research. I soon quit and became friends with whale watch operators who would allow me on their boats and thereby also provided me with the opportunity to form solid questions in my mind. I enrolled for a PhD at the University of Western Australia along with my project, leaving my supervisor no choice but to allow me to go ahead with it :) The blue whales are a life long project as they are unique and need protecting. And yes - I do feel lucky.
Life and living, marine life - particularly blue whales, protecting the ocean and its wealth, family and friends, learning, travel and education! Most importantly, I am fuelled by curiosity.
Everything on this earth is so closely intertwined that when we drive a species to extinction, we are spelling our own demise.
Whales and conservation....and anything else you might be passionate about. I am always open to learning new things!
Not talking (when underwater :) ), yoga, crochet
A former classmate of my brother's, Sanjana Hattotuwa, wrote to me one day requesting an interview. I was happy to oblige knowing how important awareness is to protecting the blue whales that I work with. On his email signature, I noticed that he had been a TEDfellow. Having followed TEDtalks for many years and really enjoying the diversity and passion in all the speakers I did a quick search on what and how to become a TEDfellow. I had a week to apply and I knew it was a long shot but I went for it anyways. Here I am, preparing for my first TED and hoping that I represent my blue whales as best as they deserve!
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