Tag Archives: Turtles

Green turtle stranding

This is a photograph taken last week on the marine project… a perfectly preserved and beautiful stranded green turtle. We couldn’t determine the cause of death as it appeared intact with no injury visible. One of the major problems with sea turtles is injestion of plastics discarded into the ocean; so this could have been the case here. One of the main things GVI is trying to promote in Kenya is a respect and appreciation for the marine environment; to reduce littering and unsustainable resource use. Lets hope we do not see any more turtles like this.

 

Green Turtle Stranding

Green Turtle Stranding

An unexpected hatching

On Monday, representatives from GVI and KESCOM met to work together to  create a new structure to the current placement programme, introducing both conservation and community development aspects, and to formulate key aims for the next 3 months. We started the day by driving up to Vipingo, just north of Mombasa, to meet with the members of the Turtle Conservation Group (TCG) at Bureni, who currently manage a private section of the Kenyan coast, and potentially perfect nesting beaches for Green and Hawksbill turtles. We met with Charles and Nicola, the most active members of Bureni Turtle Group and discussed both the groups and KESCOM’s goals and how GVIs trained interns could help support them on the ground.

A tiny hatchling emerges from the nest to start it's epic journey

A tiny hatchling emerges from the nest to start it's epic journey

 

After a successful, productive meeting, Charles led us to a critical nesting beach to show us different nesting zones as well as the current nests residing there – they have had 69 Green Turtle nests so far this year. He pointed out a particular nest that had hatched a few days earlier, with a few eggs remaining. He decided to carefully dig to see if they had finally hatched and made their way to the ocean or if they had failed to hatch altogether. He started clearing the sand away to suddenly discover two baby turtles hatched and ready to leave home! Due to the weather being so overcast, Charles decided to give them a helping hand and lifted them out of the nest and onto the beach. Almost immediately they both started frantically heading towards the ocean and not long after entered the water where they started swimming for the first time! As they popped their heads up to take their first breathe we realised this was an experience none of us would forget and a representation of the steps forward being made to protect turtles within Kenya.

Two turtle hatchlings successfully make it to the ocean

Two turtle hatchlings successfully make it to the ocean

Is Kisite-Mpunguti MPA Offering Dolphin-Watching Tours?

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-onboard-of-tourist-dhows.jpg 

 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-tourist.jpg 

 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.

Humpback Dolphins Sighted With Four Calves

Today we chugged our way along the coast of the Shimoni peninsula all hoping for an exciting day to finish off the marine research week. Not long after leaving the Western end of the Wasini Channel our hopes were fulfilled when Shafii sighted Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins just off the coast. First contact was with a mother and calf but shortly afterwards we spied another group about a hundred metres away and so headed off to check them out… and were rewarded with a group of twelve to fourteen humpback dolphins literally frolicking in the shallow waters.  

  humpback-dolphin-calf-2.JPG 

Humpback dolphins are meant to be ‘shy’ but this group were anything but as they spy-hopped, breached, swam around the boat and generally showed off, posing for the paparazzi on the boat.  Most excitingly, there were four mother and calf pairings – baby humpbacks are particularly cute with their little humps and tiny dorsal fins and they gave our two photo-identification photographers plenty of opportunities while the rest of us ooh-ed and aah-ed at the display. It can’t be a bad day when you are sat on a boat in the sunshine watching a group of dolphins at a time of day when you would normally have been arriving at the office to start work! We had a spectacular snorkel in the warm waters off Kisite Island then spied a turtle swimming on the surface as we headed back to base.  

humpback-dolphin-calf.JPG