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, May 27, 2009

Another Hard Week At The Office!

Back at base in Mkwiro, on Wasini Island, Kate brings us up to speed on the marine research programme:

It had been a month since we were last out on the marine research boat and our first day back was relatively uneventful with just one brief sighting of dolphins... but it was great to be out on the water again and topping up the tan! Day two started with an early sighting of four bottlenose dolphins but the high seas off the Eastern end of Wasini Island made for difficult conditions to follow the dolphins and take photos. However, when we reached Kisite Island and the start of the turtle transect another group of four bottlenose joined us just as the wind and waves dropped to create perfect observation conditions. Jamie and Andy launched into a photo-ID taking competition as the two adults, 083 (or Nene) 017 (or Besty), juvenile and calf (Besty’s calf) showed off in the waters around the boat. The calf was particularly playful and seemed desperate for the boys to take its photo! The result of the photo competition was hotly debated between the two competitors with each predictably alleging they had won.

Nene with Besty's calf spy-hopping

The heat on was therefore on Friday as we chugged our way along the coast of the Shimoni peninsula all hoping for an exciting day to finish off the week. Not long after leaving the Western end of the Wasini Channel our hopes were fulfilled when Shafii sighted 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 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 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 the two photographers plenty of photo 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 your working day. To finish off the week we had a spectacular snorkel in the warm waters off Kisite Island then spied a turtle swimming on the surface as we head back to base.

And in case you are wondering the winning photos of dolphins can be seen below – doesn’t that baby look like it is smiling?!