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Dolphin Watching

  • Max 5 HoursDuration
  • Watamu, KenyaLocation
  • EasyDifficulty

There is nothing more joyous than watching wild dolphins play naturally in Kenya’s protected marine parks.

The two main places you can watch dolphins easily are the Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Protected Area in the Shimoni Archipelago and Watamu National Marine Park and Reserve. The main species that can be seen are the Indio – Pacific bottlenose dolphins. They are mainly found in mother and calf families close to shore feeding and socialising in family groups or (pods) of 5 to 25. The Indo – Pacific bottlenose dolphin is the smaller relative of the well-known common bottlenose at 2.7 metres compared with 3.8 metres. If you are lucky, you may also see the infrequently sighted “endangered” Indian Ocean humpback dolphins.

In the Kisite -Mpunguti and Watamu Parks we work with the best most responsible guides and who contribute as citizen scientists for the Kenya Marine Mammal Network.

Departure in Shimoni is at the Kenya Wildlife Service office, where you will board your traditional dhow and sail around Wasini island to the coral gardens of Kisite where the dolphins can be found.

In Watamu you will take a glass-bottomed boat from the Marine Park into the Reserve where dolphins travel north and south in the area searching for food and mating close to the coral reef.
In Kisite-Mpunguti the dolphins can be seen all the year round, as the Archipelago is protected from the S.E. monsoon weather conditions, or “kusi” from April to October.

In Watamu, the dolphins are present all year round , however are more difficult to observe in the rough weather conditions when the whales are migrating during July to September.
Dolphins are vulnerable to human activities and that also includes dolphin watching. KWS requires that boat captains are compliant with dolphin watching regulations. Similar rules apply to whale watching and can be found in the International Whaling Commission Whale Watching Handbook.

We do not recommend entering the water with dolphins who are unpredictable wild animals especially mothers with young.
  • Approach dolphins at a steady speed, cut speed, slow right down and at 50 metres slow to dolphin speed.
  • Move your boat with care around dolphins. Do not make erratic movements. Where possible, leave a distance of 50 metres between your boat and the dolphins, and 100 metres directly in front or behind a dolphin. Within 100 metres boats should operate at no wave speed.
  • Do not surround dolphins. No more than 3 boats should be within 50 metres either side of a dolphin.
  • Approach a dolphin from the side and slightly to the rear.
  • Do not directly approach calves. Do not chase the baby or mother.
  • Do not intercept the dolphin path of travel or approach head on.
  • Do not deliberately encourage bow-riding, however if dolphins are bow-riding, do not change speed or direction suddenly.
  • Do not chase the dolphins and take care to avoid collisions. If a dolphin surfaces very near your boat, stop or slow down.
  • If you notice signs of disturbance, move away from the animals that are disturbed. Do not make repeated attempts to interact with dolphins that appear disturbed.
  • Signs of disturbance include:
    1) attempts to move away from the boat,
    2) regular changes in swimming direction or speed,
    3) hasty dives,
    4) lengthy periods of time underwater.
  • Give dolphins the choice to approach. Dolphins are sociable and curious animals, they may choose to move towards people and boats, but tour operators should let the animals choose the nature of their contact with people.
  • When you have finished watching the dolphins move away slowly.
  • Do not enter the water and try and swim with dolphins. This can cause stress
  • for mothers and calves and put you at risk as dolphins can be aggressive when threatened.

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