Hi this is Benjo. I am A Rocha Kenya’s new marine volunteer, starting an exciting new branch of A Rocha Kenya’s work in the marine park just off the beach in front of Mwamba. I have spent time in A Rocha Kenya before working with David Ngala in Arabuko-Sokoke forest, but now I have turned my attention to my true passion in life which is all things marine.
Watamu Marine Park and the larger Marine Reserve combined are one of the oldest Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the world, being gazetted in 1968. They have successfully protected the amazing coral reefs and seagrass beds found on this coast ever since. However, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) have highlighted the need for research in order to manage this incredible wildlife sanctuary in a dynamic and changing world. For example in 1997 coral across the whole Indian Ocean suffered a mass bleaching event, where unusually hot water caused by an extreme El Nino event, overheated the coral and caused it to die. It is increasingly believed that bleaching events are a result of climate change and create difficult management task of how to help the coral persist and recolonise when these extreme events occur. I will hopefully be looking into some of these issues and other conservation threats concerning the MPA and joining together with the international community of coral conservationists, trying to find the best solutions for maintaining healthy colourful reefs.
So far I’ve been working on this project for three months, and there has been some great progress with all areas of the project. Each week I will try and update the blog with a new story and photo from the park so you can see what is happening. Stay posted and I’m sure there will be lots more exciting discoveries and updates about this new branch of A Rocha’s work.