Coastal Wetlands of Sri Lanka


The coastal regions of Sri Lanka are dotted with Wetlands – areas that have soil that is saturated with moisture, such as swamps, marshes, riverbanks and man-made paddy fields. Muthurajawela (seen above), situated a mere 30 km north of Colombo, is one of the best known natural wetlands in the vicinity of Colombo.

avi_muthurajawela_CaspianTern02_ndrMuthurajawela hosts 192 species of flora and 209 species of fauna, including some 102 species of exotic-looking birds such as the Caspian Turn (right). The marsh is “fed” by waters from the mouth of the Kelani River and the Negambo Lagoon, making its soil resemble a saline peat bog. Its origins are not very clear, but is said to be as recent as 5000 BC. This unique ecosystem may have been created by recent, frequent changes to the mouth of the Kelani River. The place was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1996 on account of its biodiversity, and visitors are allowed to responsibly roam its waterways after seeking permission from the authorities at the “visitor centre“.

But Muthurajawela is just one of the many wetlands in Sri Lanka that would fascinate the curious nature lover. All coastal riverbanks down the Southern Trail from Katharagama in the East to Kalpitiya in the West are endowed with active wetland ecosystems. The Pearl crew would like to share a few bird sightings encountered during excursions into Muthurajawela and similar Southern Wetlands such as the Villus of Yala and the Bundala Lagoon. These pictures do justice to Sri Lanka’s reputation of yore as the “Paradise of the East” – at least when it comes to its avifauna. Enjoy!


Blue-Tailed Bee-Eater


Little Cormorant


Black-winged Stilt


 White-throated Kingfisher


Painted Stork


Cattle Egret


 Blue Peafowl


 Whiskered Turn


Rose-ringed Parakeet


Marsh Blooms

Story | Ruwan Rajapakse. Photography | Nilu Rajapakse.


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