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, January 20, 2010

Blue Marine Days

Yesterday we had an incredible blue day out in Marine. The days start quite early, by 6:00am we are all taking our breakfast, while the sun is still half asleep. At 7:00am we are already in the boat, searching for some animals in the blue pristine waters of the Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Protected Area.

Just as we went off, we saw this beautiful African Fish Eagle, just staring at the water, resting in a tree by the water. This big eagle is commonly found in this area and nests in high trees, especially acacias, figs or euphorbias and feeds mainly on fish, but also water birds and carrion.

African Fish Eagle

After surveying the beautiful Funzi bay, we changed course and headed to Nyuli Reef and the Marine Reserve. In the shallow waters of Nyuli, we had another interesting sighting; two big green turtles were mating just about 30m from our research vessel. We turned off the engine and witnessed the courtship and mating behavior, while we recorded the coordinates on our GPS. Hopefully all went well for this pair and soon enough the female can lay her eggs in the sandy beaches of Funzi Island. Green turtles can lay more than 100 eggs, which take about 60 days to incubate and hatch. In Funzi, the Local Turtle Conservation Group, helped by KESCOM (Kenya Sea Turtle Committee), and GVI Conservation interns, patrol de beaches and provide environmental education to local people to help to conserve and protect this endangered species.

Green turtle head

Mating between two green turtles

We continued our survey and headed to Kisite Marine Park, when we found a group of dolphins socializing and traveling. Excitement on the boat, while we grab our marine mammal sighting form, GPS and camera for photo-id. Some of the animals in the group are well known to the research team, such as chiizi, as well as two mothers and their calves. The water was so calm that we were lucky enough to see the calf breastfeeding under the water, just next to the boat. Wooohh! The mother and calf association in dolphins is very strong and the baby dolphins can breastfeed for more than two years. The mother’s mammary slits are located in either side of the genital slit.

Dolphin nr 37 (PATSY), with her calf

The day went on and we decided to snorkel transect 9. As if it couldn’t get an better, we had two turtle sightings while snorkeling; one juvenile hawksbill turtle and one adult green turtle. This green turtle seems to be resident at this spot, since we have seen her over and over on transect 9. It is very easy to identify her, as she is missing the back right flipper. It might have been caught in a net or hit by a propeller while younger, but managed to survive and heal its wounds. Alongside with the turtle we witnessed the amazing reef fish variety of the Marine Park.

Green turtle missing one flipper

Hopefully, all the data GVI is collecting will continue to contribute for this ecosystem to maintain its unique characteristics and help to conserve its biodiversity for the years to come!