As part of the socio-economic impact of the dolphin-watching industry in Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Protected Area, GVI carried out a study to evaluate the quality of the talks offered during the dolphin-watching tours. The aim was to find out the knowledge of the tour guides and captain on numerous areas and indicators. This study was undertaken between July and September of 2009 by GVI staff and volunteers, which accompanied 12 tourist dhow trips, assessing 15 guides and captains.
Unfortunately when analysing the assessment forms and categorising the areas into either insufficient or sufficient, the vast majority of trips proved to be overall insufficient. In fact only 3 areas – presentation, duration and route and information on KMMPA – were deemed as sufficient in over half of the trips.
The first assessment was on the presentation relating to information provided on the company, crew and boat given at the beginning of the trip. In 5 of the 12 trips only the names of the crew were given. However, 7 proved to be sufficient providing information in a very warm and friendly manner covering all three areas.
The information provided on the duration and route of the trip is the second area deemed to be overall sufficient. Ten trips gave full details regarding the structure of the day, detailing the period spent searching for dolphins, snorkelling and the break for lunch. However, 2 trips failed to mention this area at all!
The final area assessed as sufficient was for information provided on the Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Protect Area. In this area 7 of the 12 trips provided good information on the difference between the Marine Park and the Marine Reserve (three of them offered by the same tour guide). However, again 5 trips failed to provide information, merely pointing out where the MPA was.
GVI volunteers on board a tourist dhow
Information provided on the local area also proved to be very insufficient. With only 6 trips mentioning Shimoni, by providing a brief history and information relating to the slave caves. Additionally, only 6 made mention of Wasini, detailing the coral board walk and village tour. Only 1 trip discussed Mkwiro, and even that it was only to advice that it was a fisherman village. The remainder of the tours provided no information whatsoever on the surrounding areas.
Similarly, not one of the tourist dhows discussed anything to do with the local oceanography. For example no information was given regarding the geographical location in the Indian Ocean, of the important nesting turtle site in Funzi Bay, nor the important fishing ground of the Nyuli Reef.
Insufficient information was also provided in the area of health and safety, with the average time spent discussing this being less than 30 seconds. Advice was given to maintain the balance of the boat, however nothing was discussed relating to the life jackets, life rings, first aid or fire extinguishers. All 12 dhows failed to provide sufficient information.
Another area in which most of the tourist dhows surprising failed to provide sufficient information on was that of the marine species. Considering the tourist dhows were actually providing a dolphin-watching tour only 2 of them provided detailed information relating to the species of dolphins that could be found in the area and their habitats. However 10 of them failed to spend even 30 seconds doing this. Furthermore, not one of the dhows mentioned the possibility of sighting humpback whales, their characteristics or of their migration pattern through KMMPA. With GVI having 7 sighting of humpback whales during this study period, there is clear evidence of this migration! Similarly, when discussing the snorkelling that would be taking place as part of the tour none of them mentioned the likelihood of spotting turtles or of the species they may see in the area.
All 12 tourist dhows also failed to discuss KWS or the Code of Conduct introduced in 2007. No mention was made of the requirement of dolphin watching dhows to maintain a distance of 100m from groups of dolphins, that they should try and have only 2 boats around a group at one time, and to steer around a group.
Tour guide approaching a tourist
However, on a positive note the analysis on the interaction of the tour guides is good. The vast majority of guides were answering questions raised, and there were being interactive with the tourists. They had a good approach and were very friendly. Friendly suggestions were to spend less time on personal phones and not to throw cigarette ends into the MPA.
This study showed an urgent need to train the dolphin-watching guides and captains on different areas, mainly on health & safety, history of Shimoni area (Shimoni, Wasini and Mkwiro), Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Protected Area boundaries and regulations and dolphin and whales identification, biology and ecology.