NCRA Surveys – Msambweni, 2022
On a calm Wednesday morning of April 30, the CORDIO research team led by Dr. Melita Samoilys and Dr. Juliet Karisa from KMFRI ventured out in the sea to dive and explore the reefs of Msambweni South Coast of Kenya. This was the third time the team was venturing out together in a span of two years to build on CORDIO’s long-term term monitoring effort spanning two and half decades.
Riding the Wave
This was just a perfect kaskazi season (North-East Monsoon), and the ocean was calm with smooth boat rides between diving points. In fact, this was undoubtedly going to be a productive adventure. The team surveyed seven sites including new sites never previously surveyed.
Close to shore and next to a patchy mangrove stand in Munje stood one spectacular reef site that amazed everyone. This site had a high-hard coral cover.
It was fascinating to see other reef sites with relatively good hard coral cover and diverse soft corals. Elsewhere, we also surveyed sites that were relatively degraded mostly dominated by dead corals. However, fish populations were too depleted throughout, and some key fish species were conspicuously absent including some highly threatened top predators’ implications of poor fisheries management.
Dolphins are common on Kenya’s coastline and the team was quite lucky to dive with these magnificent mammals of the ocean a wish that every diver dreams of. For the less experienced team members, this was also an opportunity to learn useful safety tips while working underwater
Indeed, this was memorable fieldwork, with the stars of the show being the amazing people involved.
Intriguing stories and so much knowledge were shared during the fieldwork, connecting us, and strengthening our passion for the marine environment. We interacted with community members who were eager to learn and share their experiences and local knowledge. Four community members, Ali Mwabori, Swaleh Hassan Mwendo, Salim Omar, and Kassim Hamis, deserve a special mention.
A big shout out goes to Kwale County Fisheries led by Harrison Kathusi for providing boats and skippering us safely and Diving the Crab for refilling our scuba tanks
We are keenly analyzing the survey data to identify trends and develop much-needed indicators for the national decision-making process. Outputs from this survey will also inform and contribute to the National Coral Reef Assessment process currently under implantation by CORDIO.