9 whale species have been identified in Kenya, and the most frequently sighted by far are the humpback whale. Weather conditions dictate how when the humpback whales are seen as they pass through Kenya’s waters during the rough seas and austral winter, from July to September. In order to solve the ocean challenges in 2011 our team combined forces with Global Vision International who founded the citizen science reporting group the Kenya Marine Mammal Network in order to gather information from fishermen and other marine users during the periods of ocean inaccessibility for the researchers. Thus, through the KMMN since 2011 we have collected opportunistic data in the form of citizen science of humpback whales and other mega fauna.
Since 2019 with the help of the tourism industry and especially Hemingways Watamu we have collected “Researcher on Board” information which involves using whale watching vessels as low cost platforms to obtain data which that might otherwise be unavailable.
Land based surveys and acoustic deployments complete the picture with eyes on the land and ears in the water. The team observes the humpback whales from a single point on land, close to shore on their journey north, from Antarctica to Kenya, where mothers come to breed and calve within the protected tropic waters of Kenya, as underwater units record male whale “song” in pursuit of the females.