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

Friday, January 30, 2009

GVI Kenya's Second Dugong Sighting

This week has undoubtedly belonged to our marine research crew aboard 'Lampard'... and they saved the best to last. A few blogs back I wrote about our highlight of 2008, possibly of our entire research programme that begun in January 2006, our first observation of the endangered dugong, and the first confirmed sighting on Kenya's south coast in, we believe, a decade.

The excitement at the time was incredible, an exceptionally rare experience that we didn't think we'd ever have - well I'm only too happy to report that the excitement is no less the second time around. This morning as the research boat travelled from Kisite Island to Lower Mpunguti Island, within the marine protected area, a large mammal surfaced just metres in front of the boat. Just like the first time, everyone on board remained cautious and scanned the ocean for confirmation. It came as a tourist dhow approached, again causing the large brown mammal to surface quickly in front of its bow, but clear enough for a confirmed sighting of a dugong, this time inside the marine protected area. The chart below indicates the two sightings:

There wasn't time to get photos and we have no way of knowing whether it was the same individual that we sighted in November last year, but this does not diminish the significance of today's events. What is almost certainly Kenya's rarest mammal may well be returning to the south coast; clearly one individual is a long way from indicating a recovery, but it's reason enough for now not to give up hope.