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

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Humpback Whale Group At Nyuli Reef

Dolphin project volunteer, Joanna Miller reports on this week's marine research highlight:

"Today was amazing. At 7am we left Mkwiro, our base, on board Bardan, our research vessel, to Funzi Bay and on to Kisite Mpunguti marine protected area. We took our turns on dedicated watch, rotating around the 45 degree fields of view, when around the thrid hour, I heard Shafii and Ines call 'whale'!

Just then I saw a huge blow on the horizon. We motored out towards the humpback whale, watching it slap it's huge tail on the water, roll, travel and dive in to the distance. We saw 3 whales, but tried following a pair that may have been a mother and young from last year's breeding season. As we approached they travelled for a bit then dived down. We cut the engine and waited. I loved this part; everyone breathless and alert, scanning the horizon. Their dive lasted 2 minutes, then one animal surfaced. The breach was amazing, the whale's huge body shooting vertically more than half way out of the water and then crashig down on its side.

Seeing the animals close was so exhilarating. As they dived, I imagined their journey deeper in the ocean, and when they surfaced I was mesmerised by their size and grace.

I feel extremely fortunate to be here contributing my small part to GVI's cetacean research. Seeing the animals in their natural habitat, paying attention to their behaviour, learning about them through lectures and reading has given me a new respect for them that I hope to pass on to my students when I return home."