Whales in Watamu

Watamu Marine Association and Kenya Wildlife Service report an amazing sigh for the first time ever.

Picture above: False killer whales recorded first time in Kenya in December 2016.
They are witha pod of Indo-Pacific botlenose dolphins. Courtesy Jane Spilsbury/Watamu Marine Association

Published: Satmag Nation 14 Jan 2017

The gorgeous blue-ocean waters of Watamu reveal the first ever sighting in Kenya of False killer whales during a survey carried out by team from Kenya Wildlife Service and the Watamu Marine Association. The excitement is far-reaching.

“False killer whales are similar to Killer whales but smaller,” says a very excited Jane Spilsbury of WMA. “We were about two kilometres from shore when we saw these animals which are normally found in much deeper water.

False killer whales off Watamu, Kenya November 2016.
False killer whales off Watamu, Kenya November 2016. Courtesy Jane Spilsbury/Watamu Marine Association

She continues. “These 13 to 19 feet long animals were hunting in a group of 50 – 100 and were accompanied by Indo Pacific Bottlenose dolphins. For an hour that we watched them the whales covered an area of over three square kilometers hunting sailfish.

“This shows that the Malindi Watamu Marine Protected Area has a rich biodiversity to attract such a rarely documented, data deficient species and also why it is an important conservation area for dolphins and whales. We’re so excited!”

Hoping off the boat after a morning sail in Mida Creek landing by the village of Dabasso, I stop to chat with Spilsbury at Eco-World. I  had no idea that wine bottles had more than one use as she shows me around the newly built resource centre at Eco-World.

It boasts a stunning door made of recycled wine bottles collected from the hotels and houses along the beautiful shores of the Indian Ocean that could have ended up either as trash in the bin or trash in the ocean – which is hazardous for marine life such as the whale and dolphins and even turtles and the coral reef.

Fitted firm and solid in the frames, the translucent bottles allow for light and keep the room ventilated. It’s so artistic and at the same time functional. It compliments the 1000-bottle bottlenose dolphin at the centre – a master piece by the resident artist Andrew McNaughton.

Inside the resource centre, it’s even more amazing for the bricks are made of recycled bottles filled with soft sand and held together with cement.

“I’m built my house using the same bricks,” tells Sammy Baya of Eco World and chairman of Dabasso CBO called Tujengane. “I think my house is the only one in Kenya made of recycled bottle-and-cement bricks. It’s really beautiful especially during full moon when the house is flooded with colours of the moon.

“Build with these bricks,” continues Baya, “brought down the building cost by twenty per cent. Others in the village have begun building using these bricks.”

Dabasso by the creek is a quaint village where this enterprising community has many projects– both for the tourist and the community – like sunset sails around Mida Creek in local canoes and the gorgeous seafood meals at the Crabshack prepared by the chefs who work in the fancy hotels and at home in the village help with the cooking on the restaurant above the water in the midst of a mangrove forest.

In the recycling room, pretty trinkets fill the room – seahorses and turtles made from trashed flipflops and other debris collected from the beach. The rubber and plastic goes into the crushing machine which churns out tiny chips which manufacturers making plastic stuff like debes come to buy. It’s a veritable urban mine in here.

Outside the recycling plant, the coconut trees are doing really well fitted with flipflops collected from the beaches. “It’s what Ecoworld is about,” continues Baya, “to keep Watamu clean and healthy.” It’s a holisitic approach – healthy environment equates to healthy people and marine life.

“One of our campaigns is eradicating jiggers,” continues Baya. “It’s a neglected condition of the neglected. It’s like the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health don’t even care.

“But a local woman here has a secret recipe to get rid of jiggers. It’s called Jigfix and it’s success rate is 60 per cent.”

“It’s horrific what jiggers can do,” continues Baya. He’s seen the worse-case scenerios of the physically challenged  and the elderly who have had amputation.

In three years since the jigger campaign started in Dabasso, the jigger infections are down to two per cent.

Eco-world is an amazing centre – your visit will enrich your life a million times over.

Seahorse from trashed waste from sea - rubber slippera into gifts - at EcoWorld, Watamu
Seahorse from trashed waste from sea – rubber slippera into gifts – at EcoWorld, Watamu Copyright picture: Rupi Mangat

Wonders of Watamu

Vist: Gede Ruins, Watamu Marine Park, Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Bio-Ken Snake Farm, Eco World, Sita Snake Park, Kirepwe Island, Crabshack at Dabasso Creek, Malindi (20km), Hell’s kitchen in Dakatcha woodland, Mombasa (100km) and more.

Marine updates: Watamu Marine Association www.watamu.biz

Stay at: Turtle Bay, Hemingways, Treehouse, Temple Point, Garoda Resort, Medina Palms.

 

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