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, July 4, 2013

Andrew's Marine Glean

This week I, along with 5 other volunteers, started our marine training.  Of course, our initial goals were to see a few dolphin, oohh and awww for a while and enjoy a nice day on the boat.

  However, we have some serious science to get done and to get some serious science done you have to know a thing or two about what you’re doing.  So we started the week with a few lectures from our fearless leaders Bron and Chloe.  They taught us about the main goals of the program here on Mkwiro, and that is to help the KWS monitor the dolphin population and the health of the environment, and to study the impact of tourism and how tourism can be done responsibly.  This obviously is no small task, so they didn’t send us in with a small amount of training.  
We learnt about the different parts of the dolphin and the different species.  Here around Wasini Island there are 5 major species of dolphin which we can sight; The Bottlenose, the Humpback Dolphin, the Spinner, the Spotted and Risso’s dolphin.  We also learnt about the threats to the dolphin populations here and around the globe, and what GVI is trying to do about it, from recording the population to advising the KWS on safe observation techniques for tourists.  We then learnt about other megafauna, such as the Humpback Whale, the two types of turtles we find around Wasini (the Hawksbill and the Green Turtle), and whale sharks. 
When we had finished our lectures we were put through our first test.  While that test was nothing to speak of, our next test was slightly more exciting.  On the next day, we did our first boat survey.  We took turns learning about the different forms we needed to fill out, and while at first we fumbled with the papers which
 seemed designed to stump a layman, we were filling data like nobody’s business by the end of the day.

Andrew on Dedicated Search, looking out for dolphins

The next day we started to learn about dolphin ID.  To keep track of the dolphins in Wasini, we need to get a positive ID on as many of the dolphins as possible.  This requires us to go through each one of the photographs of the dorsal fins to be matched to one of the dorsal fins in the database as best we can.  Out of 180 individuals, it can be a little time consuming to find the winning pair of photo’s but by the end of the day it becomes an obsession. 

All in all it has been a fantastic learning experience to take part, even in a small way, in a conservation project involving so many people, and the skills and memories gained here will be with me for a very long time.