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Leaping Whale by Stuart Simpson Hemingways

Whale Watching, Kenya's Marine Big Five, Watamu

It's a whale tale Who is Looking at Who? Spy hopping humpback whale

Humpback whales are the most majestic animals in the ocean, and can be seen in the Watamu Protected Area on the Kenyan Coast, as well as several other species of whale

Ask any tourist to name the Big Five of Kenya, and they will no doubt give you the usual list of animals. Although visitors to Kenya are aware of its beautiful beaches, coral reefs, fishes and sea turtles, not many know that 10 different species of dolphins and whale have been identified in Watamu which could easily be included in the "Marine Big Five"

The good news is that Kenya, over recent years, has been recording new species with some apparently on the increase, due to reports from sports fishermen with the Kenya Association of Sea Anglers reporting to their partners with the Kenya Marine Mammal Network. The KMMN database is run by scientists at Watamu Marine Association (WMA) and Global Vision International (GVI) with KWS in Watamu and Kisite National Marine Parks and Reserves who record the hotspots for Kenya. This information is not only important to conservation but also to attract visitors such as you to the Kenyan coast with the migrations of humpback whales, and the occasional sightings of killer whales, sperm whales whales, and Bryde's whales too.

Since 2011 helped by WMA research in recent years local fishermen are combining fishing trips with dolphin and whale watching for their guests. In 2012 Hemingways, Watamu, was the first coastal hotel to offer whale-watching excursions and in 2014 sports fishermen are followed suit. WMA have therefore developed good dolphin and whale watching guidelines in an effort to protect marine mammal populations. Each year they are first sighted along the coast of East Africa in early June as they make their annual migration north from Antarctica.

It is believed that they travel to warm tropical inner reefs for protection to enable them to breed and give birth to their calves, which remain with the mothers for about two years, until weaned. They then make the return journey in October, swimming over 4,000km to the cold food-rich seas of Antarctica, their main feeding area. These magnificent marine mammals can reach a length of 15 metres and weigh around 30 tonnes (about six times the weight of an elephant). Watching them in their natural environment leaping out of the water, sometimes in pairs, or larger family groups, is an unforgettable sight. Also amazing is that these marine giants mainly feed on small fish like sardines and small shrimp like creatures called krill.

To quote recent visitors to Watamu, the experience is "more exciting than great white shark watching in South Africa", while "watching these magnificent animals with young calves jumping out of the water is a natural beauty to behold" They can sometimes even be seen from land in Watamu, as you sip a cold beer at the bar of Ocean Sports or Hemingways, hotels, both facing the marine park.

Do you want to spot humpback whales in Watamu? Contact Melinda Rees below. Also for more information about the Twin Migration Wildebeest in the Mara and Whales in Watamu.
For reports of whale and dolphins in Watamu or Kenya contact Steve Trott or Jimmy Kahindi Yaa, WMA coordinators on 0721275818

CONTACTS
Melinda Rees,
email melinda@bestofkenya.com
web www.eco-resorts.com
tel +254 (0)733618183

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