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

Monday, December 17, 2012

Marine - it's not always just about the dolphins

 Every day is different in the life of a marine volunteer.  I have now been on the marine program for 5 weeks and am still surprised at all the different things we see.  We always head out in the morning in the hope of finding dolphins to spend a few hours with, but along the way we see turtles, fish, and birds.  I have never seen the fish like the ones I have seen in Kenya.  The fish here fly! They burst out through the water and fly sometimes up to a foot above the water for as long as 100 meters till they end up bouncing on top of the water till they sink.  They remind me of when you skip flat rocks on water.  Typically we see small blue-ish fish doing just this, but the other day as we were recording the behaviour of 3 dolphins out sprung these massive thin silvery fish that were approx. 50 cm in length with a long snout.  They flew out of the water and spun through the air and bounced sometimes 5 times on the water’s surface before they sank.  They continued to do this for most of the time while we were surveying so our attention was definitely divided by the obviously amazing dolphins, and these crazy fish who thought they were birds.

Flying fish
These flying fish were not the only fish that tried to steal attention away from the dolphins this day.  One small fish somehow had outsmarted a dolphin by attaching itself on its back.  We were watching the dolphins for 2 hours and during all the behaviour blocks this small little fish held onto the dolphin, probably hoping not to become lunch.  Photo Identification is a large part of recording dolphin behaviour because it is how we identify the dolphins.  Every dorsal fin is unique, and in a way it is like the dolphins thumb print and is what we use to ID the dolphins.  The dorsal fin can have small or large notches taken out it, as well as scrapes and cuts.  The dolphin in the photo below has some scrapes which could be used to ID it; you can see the fish lying on top of the dolphin in front of the dorsal fin.

A dorsal fin
At the end of the day once we said goodbye to the dolphins and were in the channel between the two bases in Shimoni and Mkwiro (Wasini Island) 4 large birds flew past us that had a slight pinkish hue.  It took all of us a moment to say "flamingos???" with disbelief.  None of us had heard of flamingos being in this area before so we were all very surprised and excited to see them.  There is a lake called Lake Nakuru which is in the north of Kenya which is known for its pink flamingos but it is very far from the south coast.  So we were very fortunate to end our day in the presence of these beautiful birds.

Flamingos? In Kisite? Yes indeed!
I wonder what we'll see tomorrow…

Leah Hull – Conservation Intern