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

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hooray - a Hawksbill!

We set off with the typical intentions of finding dolphins, and only dolphins would do! The boat headed up to transect 4, which is a small reef inside the marine reserve, for a snorkel on the ebbing tide.

Within 5 minutes of leaving the boat we spotted our first Mega fauna of the day! There, happily meandering along the sea bed was a crown of thorns starfish - which was a good thing to be able to identify, though we all cried 'Oh no' at the sight of it. Crown of thorns are one of the most destructive coral reef organisms (excluding humans of course). As they move through the reef they eat the polyps and cause damage to the coral structures - so while it was cool to see a species many have never seen before, it was also worrying.

Crown of Thorns spotted on Transect 4

We carried along the transect, observing beautiful reef fish, like surgeons and angels to name a few. All of a sudden Lisa was waving her arms frantically beckoning to the rest of us. She had spotted a Hawksbill turtle resting on the sea bed under a piece of coral, just minding his own business. He was relatively small, but incredibly detailed, and we hovered at the surface to observe him. He started off appearing slightly nervous at our presence, but after a few moments settled calmly on the sand.
A small hawksbill turtle rests on the sea bed

We watched him for a few minutes, before continuing on the survey, with huge grins on our faces. No one remembered that we hadn't spotted dolphins!