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Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Watch

Listed under Wildlife Conservation in Coast-Tsavo, Kenya.

  • Photo of Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Watch
  • Photo of Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Watch
  • Photo of Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Watch
  • Photo of Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Watch
Photo of Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Watch
Photo by flickr user Victor O'
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I love animals so when it came time to make a decision about what I want to do with my life I always knew I wanted animals or wildlife to have something to do with it. Growing up on the south coast of Australia I thought marine life and the marine habitat was the field I could most easily find work in, so when I finished school I looked for an opportunity to try before buying in a way, and get involved with a volunteer project related to marine conservation.

I’d been involved with projects closer to home, monitoring marine life and the coastline around my own home town but I wanted to travel with it, so when I discovered an opportunity to assist a marine conservation effort in Kenya I knew straight off it was just what I was looking for.

After talking to advisors about the project and being lucky enough to be thought suitable for a placement spot I found myself on the plane to Kenya! My project headquarters were beside the Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Protected Area, a beautiful area of coral reefs and mangrove forests far more tropical than the coastal environment I was used to. The aim of the project I was part of was and is to assist local communities in understanding how to use their beautiful natural surrounds to financial gain without harming the local marine population, either by tourism or fishing.

My task, shared with the seven other volunteers there for the same two weeks as I, was to help the local permanent staff, local Kenyan Wildlife Service students and international researchers monitor the marine life. The main monitoring was done just by watching and recording what we saw. Counting dolphins, whales, rays, turtles and whalesharks as we cruised around the park’s islands and reefs on the Stingray, I spent a lot of my days in the sun, or in the water – this is one of the most amazing diving and snorkelling spots you can imagine – one of the reasons it’s so important to protect it, the goal being to promote it as an ecotourism destination and use the profits to properly manage and protect the environment. After trips out looking for dolphin pods in the morning we’d spend the afternoons entering the data we recovered into the main logs – we were looking for all sorts of things – cloud cover, water temperature, wind direction etc. or trawling the mangroves doing the same kind of monitoring but looking for birds rather than marine life.

The regular staff were excellent as far as training us and answering questions. Because I’m interested in pursuing a career in the field I had A LOT of questions, which people generally though was a good thing, and I was grateful to be able to work with the full time staff for as much of the day as I did. Some of the volunteers were just there to try something different, but everyone loved living on such a tropical island. There wasn’t always electricity or a hot shower (in fact there was never a hot shower), and it took a while to get used to the drop toilets, but there was always plenty of delicious food and all the entertainments you could wish for in such an idyllic setting!

Check out GVI's Kenyan Blog for the latest updates from the field.

Written by  Casey Horner.

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