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Research vessel

About Current Publications by Howard Martenstyn

Sri Lanka Marine Mammal Research and Conservation 1560-2019

Marine mammal research and conservation technical report

'Sri Lanka Marine Mammal Research and Conservation 1560-2019' is the most comprehensive and detailed technical report in the world on country specific research and conservation of marine mammals. A labour of love by an independent marine researcher, this technical report is a result of 10 years of in-depth research and study including voyages that took the author more than half way around the globe within Sri Lanka's waters observing and recording sightings. On examining the sample download it would be evident that a mammoth effort went into writing this manuscript. It is hoped that this new research will benefit researchers, scientists, new comers and future generations.

Over 10,000 marine mammal sighting records were extracted from 284 reference sources (published and unpublished) starting in 1852 by Edward Kelaart (Sri Lankan born naturalist) to the present day and includes the author's data. Marine mammal sightings recorded from 1560 onwards were studied and included specimens, strandings, whaling, small cetacean fisheries and live sightings at sea. In the case of certain species, distribution sighting records from the adjoining waters with India and the Maldives were examined and even extended to the rest of the Northern Indian Ocean and beyond.

The technical report is organised into two books, volume I and volume II. It is illustrated by maps, drawings, graphs and photographs.

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Volume I | Paperback | 268 pages | A4 size

Volume II | Paperback | 284 pages | A4 size

H. Martenstyn (Author & Publisher)

Published February 2019

Cover in colour, inside pages in black & white

The first volume starts with the methodology and then covers the oceanographic, climate and marine environment of the waters around Sri Lanka. This is followed with a checklist of marine mammal species and then marine mammal data from strandings, whaling, small cetacean fishery, specimens, voyage based expeditions and studies, and whale watching are provided.


Following is the  catalogue of species where data of each species recorded in Sri Lankan waters are provided, analysed and discussed with concluding remarks. Detailed observation information for each marine mammal species including any taxonomic issues if any and its status are included. Sighting records have been categorised and seasonal distribution provided. Sighting location maps are provided for most of the species sighted at sea  and depth distribution data are provided where available. Volume I ends with a chapter on conservation.


Volume II has the appendices which contains further detailed information on mixed species observations, the individual photo ID library, stranding records, museum and institution specimen collections, literature sources, symposiums and sighting records database. All sighting distribution records are listed along with relevant source references.

Out of the Blue


A revised & updated edition with dozens of stunning new photographs.

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Second Edition Book | Nov 2018 |

Paperback ISBN 978-955-54534-4-8, 1.15kg

Hardcover ISBN 978-955-54534-6-2, 1.47kg

296 pages, 21.0 cm by 29.7 cm

H. Martenstyn (Author & Publisher)

Published November 2018

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Out of the Blue is the most comprehensive treatment of marine mammals – whales, dolphins, porpoises and dugongs and their environment in the northern region of the Indian Ocean. This second edition features over 400 stunning photographs, and close to 200 illustrations, paintings and maps. The author's unique depth of experience and knowledge, coupled with stunning photography and the artists and illustrators unrivalled skills, come together to produce this educationally-focused monumental publication that is well laid out and highly informative.


The book is organised into four parts to give well-rounded and effectively informed knowledge to the reader.


The first part includes early accounts of marine mammals in Sri Lankan waters and then, much like a mini-encyclopedia, providing answers to a collection of questions on marine mammals that cover topics such as behaviour, physiology, reproduction, and its form and function.


Next, a detailed catalogue gives individual profiles of 31 illustrated whales, dolphins, porpoise and dugong on double page spreads such as morphology, behaviour, diet, taxonomy and conservation status. The information here is manifold in that, outside of factual information

colour coded tables indicate the probability of sightings at various depth contours and locations primarily based on analysis of over 7,000 sighting records.


The third section, stems from the author’s unique depth of experience with marine mammals and discovery of the relevance of bathymetry (depth of ocean floor) and other elements to their habits. This reflects his own progression to a fascination with oceanography and the correlation with marine mammal occurrences, especially concerning the larger whales. Explanations are offered on currents and various deep-sea parameters. Food, that vital ingredient, must be understood in terms of sources and relevant factors. It has been detailed in a most welcome, holistic approach to understanding the oceans and the life within them.


The final section deals with whale-and-dolphin watching. It provides information on when and where to go see marine mammals around Sri Lanka along with sighting distribution maps and guidelines for good conduct at sea.


Marine Mammals of Sri Lanka: Field Guide for Identification

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Third Edition Book | 2018

Paperback | ISBN 978-955-54534-3-1 | 40 pages | A5

H. Martenstyn (Author & Publisher)

Marine Mammals of Sri Lanka is the essential field guide to all of the marine mammals – whales, dolphins, porpoise and dugong found in Sri Lanka's waters. The author's unique depth of experience and knowledge coupled with the artist's unrivalled paintings come together to produce a well laid out and practical field guide that will enable any observer to quickly identify any mammal they may encounter at sea.


Twenty nine whales, dolphins, porpoise and dugong are illustrated to depict markings along with key characteristics and diagnostic information which can be used to quickly separate and identify each species at sea.

Each animal is introduced with a currently accepted common name, followed by the scientific name. Its status and distribution information is provided on the probability that the species is present in Sri Lankan waters as per geographic maritime province and bathymetry.

Information related to whale-and-dolphin watching guidelines and marine mammal conservation are included in the hope that we are well aware of threats to the animals and take it upon ourselves to ensure responsible practices are followed.


The field guide is printed in colour and is wire bound. It is pocket-sized for convenient use at sea. A must have companion on any whale watching voyage at sea or in the air!