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, April 21, 2010

Surprise Humpback Dolphin Sighting

Today was our first day back out onto the water after training a new enthusiastic group of volunteers.

--Humpback Dolphin foraging--

After a full day with no cetacean sightings, it was in the last 5 minutes of the survey that one of the new volunteers shouted that they had spotted dolphins. We were positioned so close to our base, in waters just off the shelf that we couldn’t believe humpback dolphins would be spotted here. Unconvinced, we scanned the water to see if there really were so close to home – they are normally found just outside the channel, either towards Funzi Bay or See Island, and are so rarely seen so close to the eastern side of Wasini Island.

But today they were foraging within sight of our base!

--Map of humback dolphin sightings--

One of the main aims of our cetacean research is to establish habitat utilisation for the different species, to find out where their preferred sites for foraging, socializing, resting are and if they are protected sufficiently by the KMMPA. We have found that humpback dolphins are in fact not using the KMMPA, but are found much closer to shore, in regions that have no protection status and are subject to potential overfishing and other human impacts. Additionally, in the area they were found in today, there is the potential issue of effluent contamination as this is where all Mkwiro villages’ waste seems to go. It will be interesting to closely monitor the humpback dolphin population in the coming months, and analyze the population dynamics and understand more fully these shy and elusive creatures.