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Marine Megafauna Conservation

Sustaining Marine Megafauna in Lamu

Interactions for Ecotourism and Conservation

How it started

Whale sharks are often seen in the waters off Lamu and from 2020 we started seeing them more frequently. Then in 2022 between February and April there were sighting up to 5 juvenile whales sharks in one location. We suspect that the late northern trade wind brought nutrient, plankton rich waters longer into the season than normal, causing an influx of bait fish. The again in 2023 the aggregation returned.  This created a lot of excitement and in recent years has been an incredible economic boost for the community as visitors and locals a like were excited to see the biggest fish in the sea. It is a life changing experience but should not be entered into lightly, as lack of understanding how to behave around these animals can cause damage to both humans and whale sharks.

In 2022 together with East African Ocean Explorers we wanted to work out the best way to ensure these interactions are held safely and responsibly. We held a meeting with the boat captains and  drew up guidelines in English and Swahili to be used on excursions. See the guidelines below.

The Project

From these whale shark sighting, LaMCoT together with the Lamu tour operators and BMUs, recognised the importance of managing and conserving these beautiful giants and the other marine megafauna we encounter so the Lame Marine Megafauna Conservation Association has been established. To fosters sustainable interactions for conservation and ecotourism, focusing on sharks, rays marine mammals, sea turtles. These species are highly vulnerable to human impacts such as fisheries and irresponsible tourism. By engaging government, non-governmental organizations, researchers, andfisheries stakeholders, the project aims to establish a regionally collaborative framework for their conservation. It emphasizes evidence-based management, good governance practices, and community involvement. Through responsible tourism guidelines, research, monitoring, and community engagement, the project seeks to protect marine megafauna, preserve interconnected ecosystems, and support coastal livelihoods. By striking a balance between conservation and sustainable development.

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