Pigeon Island National Park

Pigeon Island National Park is one of the two marine national parks of Sri Lanka, situated 1 km off the coast of Nilaveli. The island’s name derives from the rock pigeon which has colonized it.

Pigeon Island was designated as a sanctuary in 1963, and in 2003 it was redesignated as a national park, the 17th in Sri Lanka. The island was used as a shooting range during the colonial era. The national park contains some of the best remaining coral reefs of Sri Lanka.

Pigeon Island consists of two islands; large pigeon island and small pigeon island. The large pigeon island is fringed by a coral reef, and is about 200 m long and 100 m wide. Its highest point is 44.8 m above mean sea level. The small pigeon island is surrounded by rocky islets.

Many of the 100 species of corals and 300 coral reef fishes recorded around the Trincomalee area are found in the national park. Juvenile and adult black-tip reef shark are seen around the shallow coral areas. Hawksbill turtle, green turtle and olive ridley are the visiting sea turtles of the coral reef. The island is important breeding ground for the rock pigeon.

Fishing and ornamental fish collection are the main economic usages of the coral reef. The pigeon island is also used as a scuba diving site.

Uncontrolled tourism has resulted in reef degradation and loss of biodiversity and fish density. Scientific research was hindered due to the civil war in the past two decades.

A couple of hours here was enough, I left rather disappointed as the coral appears to be damaged. Seems even the park is littered by past visitors despite there being notices to take your trash with you. Tourism can save or destroy you, and in this case it left little to enjoy.