Marine conservation and research
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 1998 coral across the Indian Ocean suffered a mass bleaching event, where unusually hot water 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. We will 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 reefs.
We regularly update the A Rocha Kenya blog on marine topics.
A very important part of this project is to better understand the relationship between faith and marine conservation. See our faith and marine conservation page on this topic.
We have produced a number of research reports on our work.
There are three main areas in which we focus our research currently: Biodiversity, Climate Change, and Fisheries/Poverty Alleviation. These three themes will focus our work into the future.
We started mainly by trying to understand the system in which we are working. This led us to mostly focus on research. We have continually collated and published some of the information we have collected and conducted a gap analysis on areas which might be the focus of our work in coming years. We will especially look at IUCN Red listed species to determine appropriate activities to focus on these species. We will also continue monitoring these species and their associated habitats for adaptive management action.
An additional outcome of this above future analysis will be examining and proposing a Marine Community Conservation Programme, based upon an assessment of historical and our own research, threats to the systems, and our understanding of other successful models.
We have integrated a marine component in to the existing A Rocha Kenya conservation work including Environmental Education, Community awareness as well as carrying out beach clean ups and partnering with local marine conservation organisations to advocate for sustainable use of marine resources.
The marine environment in the Western Indian Ocean is exceptionally biodiverse including habitats such as mangrove forests, beautiful sandy beaches, seagrass beds, and coral reefs. They are also exceptionally threatened by coastal development, climate change, and fishing pressure. A Rocha Kenya works in Watamu Marine Park to understand the status and processes impacting marine biodiversity of these habitats. Volunteers work from Mwamba Field Study Centre which is ideally situated directly onshore from the Park and within eyesight of the most visited reef, Coral Gardens.
We seek volunteers who are willing to get immersed in all tasks and work in a cross-cultural situation, recognising that marine habitats have intrinsic value, and we can bring healing to the ocean and those who depend upon it.
If you would like to volunteer please visit our volunteer page for more details.
Do you have snorkelling or SCUBA gear lying around the house gather dust? We can put it to good use. The snorkelling kit at Mwamba needs to be replaced so that we can introduce visitors, local leaders, and school groups to the wonder of God’s creation underwater. Please contact us via the Mwamba Guest House with what you have and where you live and we’ll be in touch.