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, September 1, 2011

Black Tip Reef Sharks at Kisite

This Tuesday was my first trip out with the Marine Team, and what a day it was! The boat anchored just off the fringing reefs surrounding Kisite island where we promptly decided to escape the sun’s heat by snorkelling a couple of our transects.
Along the first we were joined by a Hawksbill Turtle which appeared to enjoy our brief company before leaving us for deeper waters. After marvelling at the thriving community of reef fish darting in and out of the coral, I swam into the shallows to quickly adjust my mask before returning to the rest of the group and heading to the boat which was waiting nearby.

Black Tips making the most of the shallow waters of Kisite

What I didn’t notice until I had made it back on board was that there were 6 Black Tip Reef Sharks loitering around the very same shallows I had just come from! Needless to say my shouts of “Sharks! In the shallows!!” raised quite some excitement from the rest of the team, particularly since this is the first sighting of Black Tips for the whole expedition. Some, it could be said, were more apprehensive than excited – Drew, who had been lounging in the ring off the back of the boat and couldn’t have moved any quicker to get himself back onto the boat!
Black Tip Reef Sharks have a distinctive 'black tip' to their dorsal fin and tail
Black Tip Reef Sharks can grow to almost 8ft in length, have distinctive black tips to their dorsal fin and tail and feed primarily on squid, octopus and reef fish. I suspect however the individuals we spotted were juveniles enjoying the shelter and plentiful food in the shallows of low tide. This is also encouraging sign that the ‘no-take zone’ marine park is helping protect food resources and healthy populations of megafauna such as these sharks!