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Monday June 24th, 2024

Lanka’s Blue Whale: Eight Evolutionary Stages (Part II)

Nothing…nothing…THERE!! A distant white smudge blurs a space on the horizon: spray from a blue whale coming to surface. Our boat moves toward it and soon we can see more and more whale above the waves. Biggest animals ever, blue whales abound on Lanka’s southern porch. I spent a morning on a boat, watching as three blues dove, tails up, then re-surfaced minutes later, spouting exhalations to catch their breath. They were foraging and dining on balls of krill: thumb-size orange crustaceans congregating in their millions along the edge of the continental shelf. Krill is virtually the entire blue whale diet.

A typical blue feeding dive is an athletic and physiological marvel. Strokes from huge tail flukes power her downward against her own buoyancy through the first 25 meters. As she descends, pressure from the water above forces her flexible rib cage inward, decreasing her volume and increasing her density so that her buoyancy dissipates and she begins to fall rapidly with gravity toward the sea bed. She turns and heaves herself upward in a strenuous lunge through krill balls, fighting not only gravity but also the hydrodynamic drag created by her own gaping jaws. She shudders to a halt, having gulped maybe 60 tons of seawater. With a gelatinous tongue the weight of an elephant, she spews the water out through her baleen—cartalaginous sieves that line her mouth—retaining countless krill then to swallow. She does this all again and again, upward toward the surface, holding her breath all the while of course. After gasping in the waves for several minutes, her tail goes up again in her next dive.

Lankan waters teem with organic nutrients washed from the rain-drenched land. They sink by the ton into cold deep waters just beyond the shelf. Winds sweep surface water away in mighty currents and this pulls oxygen-rich, nutrient-laden cold water up from the deep in a process called ‘upwelling.’ When sunlight hits this fertile slurry, photosynthesis goes crazy. Tiny plants called ‘phytoplankton’ grow and multiply by the billion. Micro-animals
(‘zooplankton) dine on this sumptuous buffet and likewise proliferate. Feeding on both, krill blooms turn the sea to orange.

That, in a nutshell, is why blues visit Lankan waters. Science is learning more and more about how these astonishing animals came to exist in the first place. Part I of this essay, published in the November, 2023 issue of ‘Echelon’ and re-posted on my LinkedIn page specified below, recounted the first five of eight key evolutionary stages. In this Part II, I recount the remaining three.

Six: Supersizing

Global cooling that began 15 mya accelerated sharply around five mya due to ocean current changes triggered by tectonic events, chiefly the volcanic rise of Central America, closing a sea passage between North and South America.

As cooling continued, non-tropical latitudes saw the onset of Ice Age glaciation. Glaciers scraped iron and other mineral nutrients from continental rock and released them into ocean during summertime meltbacks. These nutrients found their way into coastal pockets like shelves, bays, inlets and estuaries. There they met organic nutrients in oxygen-rich cold water upwellings where sunlight induced great blooms of photosynthesizing phytoplankton and concomitant zooplankton surges. Poo and decomposing lifeforms stoked blizzards of organic ‘marine snow’ falling into frigid depths, thereafter to surface again in organically-enriched upwellings.

Within these positive feedback loops, dramatic explosions in ocean productivity could appear and then vanish quickly in particular localities, driven by temperatures, winds, currents, upwellings and other vagaries. Rorquals supersized to exploit this new but evanescent cornucopia, yielding our modern blue whale among other giants.

Vast blooms of krill and other small animals augmented the advantages of lunge feeding. Increased food supply enabled increased size. Increased size fostered higher nutrition storage in blubber and allowed for longer migrations in search of blooms that might be separated by hundreds, even thousands, of kilometers. It also favored winter travel for calving and breeding in the tropics and reverse summer travel from tropics to cold water feeding grounds. Size, along with streamlining, allowed faster swimming for migration and pushed lunge-feeding efficiency upwards.

Supersizing fed upon itself, generating its own feedback loop. Upsized rorquals needed bigness to find food enough to be big. (Therein lay a hidden vulnerability, to be explored below.) By a couple million years ago, today’s blue whale emerged and proliferated with a diet featuring some of the tiniest crustaceans in the sea. Feeding low on the food chain, krill on the species level command huge energy budgets, giving them possibly the highest total body mass in the multicellular animal kingdom. Industrial-scale krill binges in turn furnish blues the huge energy they need to grow, forage, migrate and reproduce.

Seven: (Sub)-Species Fraternitas

Controversy could easily arise as to whether blues today constitute a single species or more than one. Currently classified into four or five sub-species, blues may someday with advancing knowledge get re-grouped as two or more separate species. Obviously, blues are very difficult to study. At present we do not know enough about their genes and habits to be sure about their population interrelationships.

There are numerous approaches as to what science should mean by a ‘species.’ A leading approach posits that it means a population of animals capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. Varying approaches apply as well to the question of what makes ‘speciation’—splitting of one species into two or more—happen in evolution.

Scientists understand ‘allopatric’ speciation to occur when breeding populations get separated by a geographic barrier—a mountain range perhaps—and cease to interbreed. Genetic drift and differing habits over a long time make it impossible to interbreed fruitfully. ‘Sympatric’ speciation occurs in the absence of geographic barriers when breeding populations occupy contrasting ecological niches and fail to interbreed long enough to make it impossible when they happen to encounter one another.

Either of these scenarios could potentially apply to blues. The recognized subspecies occupy by-and-large separate zones in the world’s oceans. Sheer distance is a form of separation and there may be invisible barriers to blue whale travel in the world’s seas. The rareness of crossing through the tropics between north and south may indicate one such barrier. Sharp frontiers between cold and warm or salty and less-salty water near Antarctica may represent additional ones. Already there are whispers of multiple species among orca, another charismatic cetacean found in Lankan waters. Long distances and differing diets may keep orca populations genetically separated.

The prevailing classification recognizes two blue subspecies operating heavily in Lankan seas: Pygmy Blues (‘pygmy’ being a relative term here) and North Indian Ocean Blues. Whalers noticed no difference between them and some scientists agree that there is none. Others, however, insist on a distinction, contending for example that they breed and calve with opposite seasonality.

Antarctic Blues graze in frigid southern waters except for dashes toward the Equator for calving and breeding. Some think they would have next to nothing to do with Lankan whales or possibly any other subspecies. Sharp divides in water temperature and salinity in southerly seas may keep Antarctic Blues isolated. Experts contend that Lankan blues never visit the Southern Ocean though bits of evidence suggest that they sometimes might.

So-called ‘Madagascar’ Pygmies live so far from ‘Australian/Indonesian’ Pygmies that encounters between them would be few and far between. ‘South Pacific’ or ‘Chilean’ Blues live far from any other subspecies except Antarctic Blues, with which they may not interact. Similarly, ‘Northern’ Blues in the Atlantic cannot be breeding with those in the Pacific. We’ll probably never know whether they could.

Also worth considering is that Earth’s blues belong to around a dozen different male song-style groups. Without getting into the weeds on how these mating song groups map onto the recognized subspecies, the point is this: if females fail to respond to songs that are wrong for them, would this not create breeding barriers? World blues may even turn out to represent a version of so-called ‘ring species,’ whereby population A can breed with B and B with C, but A and C cannot successfully interbreed. Would A and C still be one species or are they now two?

Complicating matters further, a phenomenon occurs quite opposite to possible speciation among blues. It turns out that blues sometimes breed with fellow-rorqual fin whales, resulting in hybrid offspring. One such offspring has been found carrying a fetus, which indicates fertility in the mommy. Do fins and blues now count as two subspecies within a single species?

Widespread evidence of such hybridization would tend to cancel my whole discussion of speciation and pose questions a new over what science should mean by ‘species.’ Experts recently contend that hybridization has played a major role in overall rorqual evolution. Fin whales recently moved off the ‘endangered’ list, re-classified as merely ‘vulnerable.’ Interbreeding with them may be a blue whale way of dodging imminent extinction. We obviously have much to learn about rorqual speciation.

Eight: Extinction?

Until the 20th century, blues largely evaded the harpoon. They swam too fast for the whaling craft and they don’t tend to cluster. But the 20th century brought faster ships and cannon-launched harpoons detonating upon impact. Blues then met with epic slaughter.

Blubber came into use for lamp and cooking oil, soap, candles, perfume, cosmetics and margarine. Baleen (so-called ‘whalebone’) made its way into corsets, umbrellas, handles of various kinds and brushes. Meat turned up in kitchens.

An estimated 350,000 blues succumbed to whaling in the 20th century’s first half. Antarctic blues suffered especially, losing perhaps 99% of their numbers. As they became harder to find, whalers zeroed in on the Arabian Sea, a key range for Lanka’s blues. By the early 1960s 80% of hunted blues were sexually immature. Earth’s blue population may have fallen below 5000 animals.

The worldwide whaling ban seems to have saved blues from prompt and total annihilation. Numbers have slowly rebounded, reaching an estimated 10 to 25 thousand today. Blues still hover on the brink of extinction, however, rated as ‘endangered’ (highly likely to fall extinct in the near future) under U.S. law and by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Endangerment begins with specialization in large size and lunge feeding on very specific prey. ‘Generalist’ species face less extinction risk than specialists do, because generalists can occupy a broader range of niches. Small animals, with lesser food and range requirements, face less extinction risk than big ones, which is why bird-like dinosaurs survived the extinction event tragically befalling their outsized cousins.

Ocean warming may threaten blues by reducing cold-water upwellings that bring krill blooms. Studies link warming with an 80% Southern Ocean krill decline over the past 40 years. Food supply may also suffer from commercial krill harvesting. Acidification that goes with ocean warming may also impact krill populations by hampering shell formation.

Reduced blue populations could yield demise from a single cataclysm, disease for example. Wide separation of populations could lead to inbreeding, inducing declines in genetic diversity and heightened vulnerability to disaster. Slow reproduction cycles (lasting at least three years) will retard population rebound. Plastics and toxins lodge in blubber and stomachs with consequences unfathomable. Cetaceans get entangled in fishing gear, hampering mobility.

Orca predation may pose a threat, not least in nearby seas. Orcas hunt blues in packs ranging from a few animals up to dozens. They bite and bleed their prey into exhaustion before ganging up to hold them underwater till they drown. They often swim into the mouths of their blue victims, eating only the fatty tongue, leaving the remaining carcass to others. All this has been verifiably observed in the Indian Ocean only recently. Orcas learn fast. If such predation grows commonplace, watch out. Some 25% of blues around Mexico’s Baja California bear scars from orca attacks. Orcas prey most heavily on young blues. Collapse of other prey populations (fish?) could lead to heavier orca predation on blues and other cetaceans.

Some observers suggest that blue populations sustain heavy damage from ship strike: fatal impact from heavy, fast-moving vessels. Blues cruising along Lanka’s southern continental shelf sometimes get killed by super-tankers steering through the same zone. It seems unlikely that ship strike sharply depletes worldwide blue numbers in the short term. More plausible is that it would deplete local populations in places like Sri Lanka, coastal California and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Short-term local depletion could lead to long-term sustainability failure. Sri Lanka is currently reviewing whether shipping lanes should be mandatorily moved further offshore to protect whales. This could bring revenue loss for Sri Lanka due to fewer stop-ins for refuelling and other services. In 2022, the Mediterranean Shipping Company, the world’s largest container shipper, announced an offshore route shift and speed slow-down in southern Lankan waters.

Ocean noise poses perhaps the most insidious threat blues and other cetaceans may face. Sound is crucial to cetacean life, with roles in mating, rearing offspring, food-finding, navigation and group coordination. Ocean noise could disrupt these functions in complex ways. Harmful noise may stem from seismic surveys for sea-floor mapping, mining and hydrocarbon exploration. Low-frequency sound from ship propellers overlaps in range with blue whale mating calls. Blues flee from sonar, which may cause trauma (e.g. bleeding from ears and eyes), interfere with feeding and mating, and produce panic leading to strandings. Sonar may also cause overly-rapid surfacing with concomitant decompression sickness (due to nitrogen bubbling in bloodstreams, the ‘bends’). Decade by decade our seas grow noisier.

Extinction is the rule, not the exception. At some point, blues will inevitably fall extinct, as will we. Given our role in their demise, we surely should do what we can to prolong their run. Given their sheer magnificence, we should get out to see them while they’re still here.

(Writer, lawyer and former law professor, MarkHager lives with his family in;

Further Reading

  • Small, The Blue Whale
  • Zimmer, Fish With Fingers, Whales With Legs
  • Rice, Marine Mammals of the World
  • Berta, Return to the Sea
  • Whitehead & Rendell, The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins
  • Mann, Deep Thinkers
  • Pyenson, Spying on Whales
  • Martenstyn, Out of the Blue

Organizations and Resources

  • Centre for Research on Indian Ocean Marine Mammals (CRIOMM) (Sri Lanka)
  • Sri Lanka’s Amazing Maritime (SLAM) (Sri Lanka)
  • Oceanswell (Sri Lanka)
  • NOAA Fisheries, National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (USA)
  • Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) (UK)
  • Marine Mammal Institute, Oregon State University (USA)
  • Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (Sri Lanka)
  • Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society (Sri Lanka)
  • Department of Wildlife Conservation (Sri Lanka)

Whale Watching

  • Borderlands, Weligama
  • Mirissa Water Sports, Mirissa
  • Raja and the Whales, Mirissa
  • Royal Tours, Mirissa

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Sri Lanka central bank appoints two Deputy Governors

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s central bank said Assistant Governors A A M Thassim and J P R Karunaratne were promoted to the post of Deputy Governor.

The full statement is reproduced below:


In terms of the provisions in the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Act, No. 16 of 2023, Hon. Minister of Finance, as recommended by the Governing Board, has appointed Mr. A A M Thassim, Assistant Governor and Secretary to the Governing Board, and Mr. J P R Karunaratne, Assistant Governor, as Deputy Governors of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka with effect from 20.06.2024 and 24.06.2024, respectively.

Mr. A A M Thassim

Mr. A.A.M. Thassim has over 31 years of service at Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) in different capacities in the areas of Supervision and Regulation of Banking Institutions, International Operations, Communication, Payments and Settlements, Employees Provident Fund, Finance, Risk Management, Deposit Insurance, Security Services and Information Technology.

He has served as the Director of Bank Supervision (DBS), Director of International Operation (DIO) and Director of Communications (DCM) and has contributed towards strengthening the legal framework, governance, implementation the Basel 3 international guidelines for capital and liquidity and adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) 9 to the banking sector, thereby strengthening the resilience of the Financial Sector.

Further, as the DIO, Mr. Thassim was responsible for the investments and management of foreign reserves of the country and exchange rate management. Mr. Thassim has also gained experience and knowledge in the field of payment systems and was involved in the implementation of the Cheque Imaging and Truncation System. In addition, he has also served on several high-level internal committees including in the areas of monetary policy, financial system stability and international reserves.

Prior to the appointment as the Deputy Governor, Mr. Thassim held the position of Assistant Governor and was in charge of several key departments including the Bank Supervision Department. He also served as the Secretary to the Governing Board, Monetary Policy Board, Audit Committee, Board Risk Oversight Committee, Ethics Committee and Financial Sector Crisis Management Committee.

At present, Mr. Thassim is a board member of the Sri Lanka Export Credit Insurance Corporation and the Vice Chairman of the Institute of Bankers of Sri Lanka (IBSL). Further, he has also served as a board member of the Credit Information Bureau of Sri Lanka and LankaClear (Pvt) Ltd.,

Mr. Thassim is an Associate member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (ACMA) United Kingdom and possesses a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the Postgraduate Institute of Management (PIM), University of Sri Jayewardenepura (USJ). He has also completed a programme on Gold Reserves Management from Hass School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, USA.

He is also an Alumni of Harvard University, USA having successfully completed the executive programme on Leaders in Development conducted by the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Mr. J P R Karunaratne

Mr. J P R Karunaratne has over 33 years of service at the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in different capacities in the areas of supervision and regulation of Banks and Non-Bank financial institutions, Currency management, public debt, Secretariat, Finance, policy review and monitoring. He has served as the Director of Supervision of Non-Bank Financial Institutions (DSNBFI) and the Superintendent of Currency (SC) and has contributed towards strengthening the legal and regulatory framework in the Non-Bank Financial Institutions sector and has played a prominent role in the consolidation of the Non-Bank Financial Institutions sector. Prior to the appointment as a Deputy Governor, Mr. J P R Karunaratne held the position of Assistant Governor and was in-charge of the Department of Supervision of Non-Bank Financial Institutions, Finance Department and the Facilities Management Department.

As an Assistant Governor Mr. Karunaratne has previously overseen several other departments namely, Macroprudential Surveillance, Resolution and Enforcement, Foreign Exchange, Currency, Regional Development, Legal and Compliance, Risk Management, Center for Banking Studies, Security Services and Staff Services Management.

He has also served as the Secretary to the Monetary Board, Secretary to the Board Risk Oversight Committee, Monetary Board Advisory Audit Committee and the Ethics Committee. Further, He was on release to the Ministry of Defence, where he served as a Financial Advisor. He was also appointed as the Chief Operating Officer for the Secretariat of Committee of Chartered Accountants appointed by the Supreme Court in 2009.

He has served as the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Accounting and Auditing Standards Monitoring Board and has been a Council Member of the Certified Management Accountants (CMA) of Sri Lanka. Mr. Karunaratne was awarded the CMA Sri Lanka Business Excellence Award at the CMA Sri Lanka National Management Accounting Conference 2023 in recognition of his service to the profession. He has also received “Long Service Award” of the IBSL in 2019 in recognition of his long career and contribution as a resource person at IBSL.

He was the Project Team Leader of the South East Asian Central Banks (SEACEN) Malaysia, research project on “Implementation of Basel III Challenges and Opportunities in SEACEN Countries” and SEACEN published the research in 2013. He serves as a member of several internal and external committees at present.

Mr. Karunaratne holds a Master of Commerce Degree in Finance from the University of New South Wales, Australia and a Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Statistics and a Bachelor of Science (Physical Science) Degree with a First class from the University of Colombo. He is a Fellow Member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), UK and a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA). Further, he is an Associate Member of the CMA Sri Lanka.

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Sri Lanka opposition questions claims that IMF housing tax is only for kulaks

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s opposition has questioned claims made by government spokesmen that a tax on housing proposed in an International Monetary Fund deal is only limited to rich people but if as promised by President one house is exempt, it is welcome, legislator Harsha de Silva said.

Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe made a promise in parliament that the first house of a citizen will be excluded from the property tax.

Related Sri Lanka to exempt one house from imputed rent wealth tax: President

But opposition legislator Harsha de Silva pointed out that the IMF program documents clearly says taxes will be levied on owner occupied houses on ‘imputed taxes’, not second houses.

Under current inland revenue laws, actual rent income from a second house is already captured as part of taxable income.

The IMF document mentions a threshold value from which taxes will be exempt but not that a whole owner-occupied primary residence will be exempt.

“The tax is imposed on the income of individuals (rather than real property itself) and thus raises central government revenue in accordance with the constitution,” IMF staff said in their report.

“A similar tax was previously included in the Inland Revenue Act. No. 10 of 2006.

“Under this regime, primary residences were exempt and the assessed values for rating purposes were used to determine the base.

“Given the broad exemption and the use of outdated and downward biased annual values, the tax generated hardly any revenue.”

Meanwhile Sri Lanka has promised to impose the housing tax from April 01, 2025.

“…[W]e will introduce an imputed rental income tax on owner-occupied and vacant residential properties before the beginning of the tax year on April 1st, 2025,” the memorandum of economic policies agreed with the IMF said.

“An exemption threshold and a graduated tax rate schedule would make this tax highly progressive.

“The full revenue yield from this tax is estimated at 0.4 percent and would materialize in 2026 (with a partial yield of 0.15 percent in 2025).

“This yield would still fall short by 1 percent of GDP relative to the expected yield of 1.2 percent of GDP from the property tax envisaged for 2025 onwards.”

Presidential Undertaking

“Whatever the President said the IMF agreement says owner occupied house,” De Silva told in parliament.

“It is not the second house that is mentioned in the agreement.

“But there is one thing. I am happy as Samagi Jana Balawegaya, that we have been able to save the middle class in society from a massive tax that was to be imposed.”

In Sri Lanka there is a belief that the most productive citizens are fair game for excessive or expropriationary taxation, just like kulaks were targeted in the Soviet Union for actual expropriation, critics say.

Wealth taxes have had disastrous effects on some US cities like Baltimore, leading to falling populations and dilapidated houses.

Sri Lanka is currently facing a brain drain due to high income tax after on top of depreciation from severe monetary debasement from a flexible exchange rate, which is neither a hard peg nor a clean float.

Sri Lanka has imposed a wide range of taxes on the people to maintain a bloated state, after inflationists engaged in extreme macro-economic policy (tax and rate cuts) glorified in Saltwater-Cambridge doctrine to boost growth, throwing classical economic principles and monetary stability to the winds and driving the country into external default.

The IMF itself gave technical assistance the central bank to calculate potential output inviting the agency to cut rates to close the perceived econometric ‘output gap’.

In the run up to the default, rate cuts triggered multiple external crises, leading to output shocks as stabilization programs were implemented.

Macro-economic Policy

Macro-economic policy as known now was devised by Cambridge academic J M Keynes in the wake of the Great Depression triggered by the Federal Reserve after it invented open market operations and policy rates in the 1920s and also popularized by Harvard academic Alvin Hansen among others.

Macro-economic policy started to de-stabilize countries in peacetime in the interwar years and after World War II it led to the collapse of the Bretton Woods system.

The Great Depression was also a peacetime collapse of what was later known as the roaring 20s’ monetary bubble.

“They have blithely ignored the warnings of economists,” classical economist Ludwig von Mises wrote of European nations which got into trouble from rate cuts and Keynesian stimulus, which brought currency depreciation and protectionism in its wake from the 1930s.

“They have erected trade barriers, they have fostered credit expansion and an easy money policy, they have taken recourse to price control, to minimum wage rates, and to subsidies.

“They have transformed taxation into confiscation and expropriation; they have proclaimed heedless spending as the best method to increase wealth and welfare.

“But when the inevitable consequences of such policies, long before predicted by the economists, became more and more obvious, public opinion did not place the blame on these cherished policies…”


In Sri Lanka however there is some understanding of the role played by macro-economists in the most recent crisis.

There are rumblings of unhappiness about ‘central bank independence’ given to an agency to create 5 to 7 percent inflation and currency debasement under a flexible exchange rate and its constitutional status relating to parliamentary control of public finances.

Sri Lanka’s central bank’s current flexible inflation targeting (inflation targeting without a floating rate) regime as well as its 1980s money supply targeting without floating rate has busted the national currency for decades and made it impossible to run budgets, made it difficult for people build houses which are now to be taxed, and also for millions to live and work in the country of their birth.

Fiscal metrics deteriorate each time rate cuts drive the country into currency crises and new taxes are brought in stabilization programs, ousting reformist governments and leading to policy reversals.

Sri Lanka’s citizens have suffered for decades from the privilege given to a few macroeconomists to print money to cut rates with inflationary open market operations and trigger forex shortages.

Related How Sri Lanka’s elections are decided by macro-economists and the IMF: Bellwether

Critics have pointed out that since 1954 in particular, central bank rates cuts which drive the country into external crises and the stabilization programs that follow, have been the main determinant of elections in the country and election of fringe political parties. (Colombo/June13/2024)

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India supports Sri Lanka Coast Guard to boost maritime security

ECONOMYNEXT – India has given 1.2 million US dollars’ worth spare parts to Sri Lanka’s Coast Guard to be used in a vessel also gifted to the Indian Ocean Island on an earlier occasion, the Indian High Commission in Colombo said.

“Handing over of the large consignment of spares symbolizes India’s commitment to support capability building towards addressing the shared challenges of Maritime Security in the region,” the Indian High Commission said

The spare parts were brought to Sri Lanka on the Indian Coast Guard Ship Sachet, an offshore patrol vessel that was on a two-day visit to the island.

The spares were formally handed over to the Sri Lanka Coast Guard Ship Suraksha which was gifted to Sri Lanka in October 2017 by India.

India has gifted spare parts for the ship in June 2021 and April 2022 and also provided assistance in refilling of Halon cylinders in January 2024. (Colombo/June23/2024)

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