Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Risso's Dolphin Recorded at Shimoni

Hello again,

Although GVI's research boat hasn't been out searching for dolphins recently, valuable data is still coming our way. Those of you lucky enough to have been a part of our expedition here in Kenya will no doubt recall the intense training you went through, including learning all 8 of the dolphin species known to be present in the Western Indian Ocean. You will also remember that the vast majority of surveys only encountered two of the species, the Indian Ocean Bottlenose Dolphin and Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin... a lucky few will have been entertained by a third, the amazing Spinner Dolphins. Not surprisingly, some of you asked if it was really necessary to study all 8 dolphin species...

KWS and the local community improvise a stretcher to carry the dolphin to water

Well, I would like to think we have been vindicated in the last few months, with a fourth species now recorded at Shimoni and nearby Gazi - Risso's Dolphin, Grampus griseus. Unfortunately at Shimoni it was a dead individual that washed up, but from a scientific point of view it does indicate the presence of this deeper water species around the Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Protected Area, further confirmed by a live stranding at nearby Gazi within just a few weeks.

The Risso's Dolphin is supported for a few hours in deeper water while it recovers - the whole process is not surprisingly very distressing and exhausting for the animals

Our partner, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and many of the local community were on hand to do the best they could for the stranded dolphin at Gazi and despite a lack of training or basic equipment such a stretcher, they managed to get the dolphin in to deeper water, allow it to recover, and watched it swim away. Sadly for all involved it was found dead the following day, but it is worth remembering that in many instances of single adult strandings, illness and injury will often be factors behind it.

Jillo, of the KWS research team, with the dead dolphin the following day. Some of you will remember Jillo from when he joined GVI for 10 weeks as his field attachment for KWS Training Institute.