All photographs are the original work of Nishan Perera, and cannot be used without the written consent of the photographer. Unauthorized use of images is a violation of intellectual property rights and may be subject to legal action.
As the dive season draws to a close the visibility is low at the Bar Reef but its good enough for some relaxed snorkeling after a few dives on the deeper ridges offshore. All around, hundreds of butterflyfish and damselfish dart around the coral. Schools of snappers and parrotfish congregate around deep sand patches and surgeonfish graze on algae, while in the distance adult blacktip reef sharks cruise the reef edge looking for a mid day snack.
Its a typically hot, sunny day in late March on the northwest coast of Sri Lanka. The light breeze that refreshed us earlier in the morning has disappeared and everything around us is still and silent. Above us, a few white clouds hang like cotton wool in the clear blue sky, their reflection visible on the flat mirror like surface of the ocean. The calm preceding the monsoon storms that will soon batter the coast for six months before a new season starts in an endless cycle that works with near clockwork precision. We laze around on the boat between dives, scanning the horizon hoping for the sight of a dolphin as it breaks the surface of the water, or perhaps a whale shark feeding on the abundant plankton. The silence broken only by flying fish escaping from an unknown predator.
We return to Deranagala for a relaxed weekday dive. The sea is calm but visibility is only around 15m due to the heavy rain the previous day. But its a great dive, with lots of schooling fish and old friends from previous dives like the large porcupinefish, moray eels and lionfish. We then explore Goda Matthegala, which is a typical Negombo reef with lots of small fish and macro life. Cleaner shrimps, gobies, hermit crabs and sea shells abound providing plenty of opportunities for macro photography.
The Bar Reef is a large patch reef off Kalpitiya, on the northwest coast of Sri Lanka. In 1992 the Bar Reef Marine Sanctuary was established covering an area of 306 square kilometers that included shallow patch reefs, deep sandstone reefs and seagrass beds. For many years the reefs remained in a near pristine state due to the small human population and very limited fishing in the area. And although the shallow coral patches were completely destroyed by a largescale coral bleaching event in 1998, many of the corals have since recovered, as can be seen from these pictures taken in February 2007. However the last five years have seen a rapid increase in fishing within the sanctuary including the use of dynamite and illegal nets. The recent popularity of the Kalpitiya area among tourist has also resulted in boat anchoring and reef walking which are destroying the fragile reef. Unfortunately, the relevant authorities have shown little interest in managing this unique marine region, and destructive activities continue to increase. The Bar Reef is an important part of Sri Lanka's natural heritage that should be experienced by future generations and not seen only through historical photographs.