About Watamu Marine Association and the Kenya Marine Mammal Network
Watamu Marine Association is community organization working on the north coast of Kenya in the protected Watamu National Marine Park and Reserve. We work to help protect our marine life. Watamu Marine Association Website This includes the conservation and research of marine mammals including humpback whales since 2010. In 2011 WMA partnered with Global Vision International, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, WWF Kiunga and Kenya Association of Sea Anglers and joined together to form the Kenya Marine Mammal Network in order to share sightings of whales (and dolphins) to compile a national database. The aim is to collect information on these animals to help create a national marine mammal conservation strategy and share information with other East African countries concerning the migratory behaviour of humpback whales. Kenya Marine Mammal Network Website
Why are we Crowd Fundraising?
Very little is known about dolphins and whales and all other marine mammals in Kenya. However it is known that humpback whales migrate on an annual basis from Antarctica along the East African Coast to breed and calf. This also includes Kenya. Since 2011 WMA community researchers Michael Mwang’ombe and Kahindi Charo have been leading the north coast research team collecting data on numbers and behaviour of these 18 metre, 40 tonne whales, from the ocean and on land. We have been combining efforts with GVI Kenya on the south coast and now have sufficient information to be invited to present the Kenyan data at the Humpback Whale World Congress in Madagascar. This will be the first time that Kenya has been represented at a global conference such as this. Humpback Whale World Congress - Madagascar
What is the money for?
Michael and Kahindi have been offered a flight to the Humpback Whale World Congress, Madagascar to present an oral presentation before an international scientific audience. However we need to fundraise for accommodation and a second flight. Both researchers are from the local community and are unusual in that they are self taught scientists (with help from our KMMN partners). For them to attend the Congress would be a huge personal and national accolade. It would also send a positive message to local conservationists on the ground in Kenya.
- Working with both Michael and Kahindi has been encouraging. During the course of my time as the Marine science officer on Kenya’s longest running cetacean monitoring program, I had the pleasure of working with both Michael and Kahindi. They both demonstrated a high degree of knowledge and I was impressed with their enthusiasm. I have worked with them on more than one occasion, providing training on marine mammal data collection – species ID, photo ID and recording data sheets and each time they were eager to learn more. They were able to practically apply photo ID skills within a few hours of training as well as correctly identify species.Both Michael and Kahindi have successfully carried out several land based surveys on Humpback whales as well was boat based surveys on bottlenose dolphins, in Watamu over the past few years. Attending the Humpback Whale World Congress would be highly beneficial to keep up the research on whales, both nationally and internationally to build up a catalogue on their population, behavior and distribution. – Thalia Pereira, Global Vision International Marine Manager, Shimoni Kenya.
- Hemingways Watamu, as one of the best boutique hotels in Watamu, has always supported local conservation efforts and especially the Watamu Marine Association Dolphin and Whale Research Project. This is a perfect example of tourism and conservation working hand in hand. While we knew that humpback whales travelled through Watamu Kenya on an annual migration until 2010 and the start of the WMA program we did not know exactly how important this area is for these animals. Information from WMA from research studies led by Michael Mwang’ombe and Kahindi has helped the hotel start the first whale watching trips in Kenya for guests. In return we invite the WMA researchers on board these trips as a guide for our guests and to help them collect important data from our boats. We are very pleased to support Mike and Kahindi representing Kenya and this important international humpback whale conference. – Melinda Rees, General Manager Hemingways Watamu, Kenya