"Beaches, mangroves and turtles" Watamu by Krumel

Watamu Travel Guide: 33 reviews and 111 photos

As part of my 3-month leave of absence in 2004 during which I volunteered at wildlife conservation projects in Kenya I spent 4 weeks in Watamu to work with Watamu Turtle Watch, and I loved every minute of it.

First of all Watamu is an absolutely beautiful place, with three gorgeous beaches, Watamu Bay, Blue Bay and Turtle Bay. The water is crystal clear, rocky outcrops are strewn along the coast, and the white sand is lined with palm trees. In addition to this there are beautiful coral gardens off the coast, and spectacular mangrove forests along Mida Creek. The Arabuko-Sokoke forest with its unique wildlife is only a few kilometres away, and so are the mysterious ruins of a 14th century town in Gedi. So all in all not a bad place to be spending four weeks in.

Watamu Turtle Watch works for the protection of sea turtles and their habitat in this area. If a turtle accidentally gets caught in a fisherman's net WTW drives to the landing site to pick it up, measures and tags it, compensates the fisherman for the damaged net and releases it back into the sea. Also, the beach is patrolled every night at high tide to look out for nesting turtles, and if a nest is placed in an unsuitable spot it is dug out and the eggs are buried again in a safe location. The nest is monitored until the hatchlings emerge and WTW ensures that they safely reach the sea.

The assignments I worked on ranged from organising education events at WTW's Marine Information Centre over turtle releases, Excel-training for the staff and painting a boat to getting rid of sea urchins, which have become a pest in this area. My main task, however, was to organize a mangrove planting day, as some areas have been badly damaged. This involved a 4-hour hike through the mangroves to assess the damage and to determine which of the 7 mangrove species around Mida Creek have seeds that are ready for collection. Next up were a lot of meetings with the fishermen of the local conservation groups to enlist their help, the selection of a suitable planting site, and eventually the planting day.

The four weeks in Watamu have been absolutely amazing, I learned a lot about the Kenyan seashores and marine wildlife, and have made some great new friends. This has been my favourite conservation project in Kenya so far, and I liked it so much that I went back for a return visit in February 2006 and again in October 2008. And you know that sometimes, when you had a great time in a place, it somehow doesn’t live up to the memory that you had of it when you go back there? Well, this is certainly not the case with Watamu. As soon as I arrive back there it is always like I had never been away, and I hope it won't be too long until I can dash around Watamu again with our little turtle rescue kit :-).

If you are interesting in the work WTW is doing in Watamu you can go to www.watamuturtles.com, and if you would like to support them and adopt a turtle nest or a released turtle have a look at www.adoptaseaturtle.com

  • Last visit to Watamu: Oct 2008
  • Intro Updated Nov 18, 2008
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