Last week the marine team were fortunate enough to go on a mini road trip and visit the Watamu Marine Association early on Friday morning. Watamu is a small village on the Kenyan coast which has pristine beaches and reef protected lagoons.
The Watamu Marine Association (WMA) was formed in 2007 with the vision of protecting Watamu as a natural asset and encouraging economic prosperity by promoting quality tourism primarily to benefit the local community. It is a non-profit and voluntary organisation and its members include the local community, environmental sectors as well as tourism sectors.
Recently the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) started funding a dolphin conservation programme in Watamu, enabling the WMA to focus its attention on the welfare of the dolphins in the area. This programme will focus on community education and enforcing responsible dolphin watching protocols locally. Research will also be an important element of the project, the number of dolphins and the population distribution in the marine park and reserve will be studied.
The main purpose of our visit was to share information, skills and learn from each other and it was a great success… As GVI has been studying dolphins in Kenya since 2006 WMA can learn a lot from the challenges and initiative successes we have had in our dolphin research. In return, they have been working on a waste management programme and making crafts from recycled materials, such ideas are a great addition to the waste management improvements we have been implementing in Shimoni and are setting up in Mkwiro too.
Through collaboration, hopefully a national conservation plan for resident and migratory cetaceans in Kenya can be developed in the future. All of us thoroughly enjoyed the trip and spending some time with the fantastic team at WMA. They are in an exiting stage of the process and it will be interesting to see where they take it!
To find out more about Watamu and the marine association and some of their projects or to get involved visit their website or check them out on facebook.