Thursday was a slightly different day for the marine team, as we headed to the other side of Wasini Island to give a series of lectures to the Wasini Locally Managed Marine Area (WLMMA) group. We headed out from Mkwiro in two groups; one on foot along the path of the mangroves on the north side of Wasini Island and the other in Squirrel, our boat, travelling west along the channel to reach our destination, Wasini Village.
On our arrival we were ushered to the local football club building by Feisal, one of the committee members of the WLMMA, the group we would be giving lectures to for the day. We waited patiently for the rest of the villagers and members to arrive. The day began with a prayer by one of the village elders, a man of eminent presence, dressed from head to toe in flowing white with a kofia, but also with a touch of the modern day with a hearing aid and flashy sunglasses. Before the presentations kicked off everyone introduced themselves, and we learnt that amongst the members present there were several fishermen and elders of the village.
Sergi giving a presentation
The Wasini LMMA committee began in 2003, when PACT Kenya visited several villages around the Shimoni peninsula area of the south coast. Their aim was to educate the people of these areas on the value of the environment around them and ways to conserve it, as well as highlighting particular marine areas near the villages that were susceptible to the negative impacts of tourism and over-fishing. The locally managed marine area of Wasini runs from the west tip of the island around the coast finishing mid-way along the north side of the island, encompassing several areas of mangroves and also the reef in front of the village. The group have already introduced and enforced the use of mooring buoys due to the devastating impact of the anchors of the many dolphin dhows that stop to have lunch in Wasini village. They also have daily boat patrols to apprehend anyone using illegal fishing techniques that damage the reef, including spear-gun and dynamite fishing.
The group’s main project at present is to take tourists out to a section of the reef for snorkelling trips. So our job was to give lectures and educate the group on several aspects of the marine environment. The lectures included conservation, mangroves, marine mammal biology, whale and dolphin species, sea turtles, reef fish, marketing and company etiquette. The presentations went brilliantly with the students being extremely involved, asking many questions whilst also teaching our volunteers; Kiswahili names and some local traditions.
However we did not spend the whole day in lectures and there was time to have a chai and cake break, lunch in a new eco-friendly restaurant with a delicacy of sea grass on the menu, and a game of football with some of the local children. We were also taken out to the snorkelling area which was an amazing experience. The guys had warned us that we would not see fish any where near the size of the fish found in Kisite-Mpunguti MPA, but this did not damper the experience at all, it just meant everything was miniature! Amongst the many fish species observed we saw anemonefish, an Indian lionfish (Pterois muricata) lurking beneath an over hanging rock, Black-saddled tobies Canthigaster valentine, juvenile Black snappers (Macolor niger) and an Emperor angelfish (Pomacanthus imperator) elegantly gliding around the reef. All in all a very rewarding day for everyone involved!