Whales & Dolphins

Improving our knowledge of population status, movements and behaviour

There are several aspects to whale and dolphin monitoring and research efforts at each of our three islands, including monitoring of whale and dolphin numbers in adjacent waters, which contributes to regional and international datasets on population and conservation status of species found in each region. Of particular interest around Vamizi Island is a semi-resident pod of the rare and highly endangered Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphin, which are regularly sighted near the island.

Passive Acoustic Monitoring, whereby high powered underwater microphones (hydrophones) are deployed beneath the sea surface, is also being used in the area to detect and monitor the presence of whales and dolphins in the region. The method allows for the detection of different species and their relative abundance, which can help inform practice and policy regarding sea-based activities in the area. 

For example, understanding the timing and location of key migratory routes and breeding or nursery areas of humpback whales, can limit the impacts of oil and gas drilling and exploration by timing noise polluting activities and boat traffic to minimise their impacts on the whales. 

The recording of whale songs and vocalisations at Vamizi is also being used in a regional study of whale population dynamics and movement patterns, and to better understand population-level differences in humpback whale songs.

Learn more about our other projects…

See what we're doing in all our different fields

Apex Predators

Using the latest tracking technology we study the movements, habitat use and behaviours of apex predators, including sharks and giant trevally, to inform conservation and the establishment & management of marine protected areas.

Community Development

Working in close partnership with coastal communities to build capacity, develop sustainable livelihoods, promote marine conservation education and train & employ Marine Community & Conservation Rangers.

Coral Reef Diversity

With some of our sites hosting among the highest coral diversity outside the Coral Triangle, coral reef studies are a major focus of our work including documenting & monitoring coral, fish & invertebrate health, diversity & abundance.

Fisheries & Food Security

Many millions of people depend directly on marine resources in East Africa. Our work contributes to fisheries monitoring, promoting sustainable fishing practices & assessing the nutritional value of fish to people as reef ecosystems change.

Ocean Soundscapes

Listening in on ocean soundscapes using underwater microphones enables us to monitor the health of coral reef ecosystems, study the behaviour of iconic marine animals and assess the impacts of noise pollution.

Sea Turtles

Five species of sea turtles occur in the Western Indian Ocean, with our sites supporting important nesting areas for four of these. Our sea turtle nest monitoring projects on Mnemba and Vamizi Islands are amongst the longest continuously running programs in East Africa.

Seascape Mapping & Monitoring

Mapping habitats & multiple use zones & deploying environmental sensors at our sites provides vital information for marine scientists, & informs marine spatial planning and the establishment & management of marine protected areas.

Terrestrial Biodiversity

Islands have high conservation value for threatened & endemic plants & animals. Our work focuses on plants, birds, reptiles & mammals, including a unique sub-species of the Samango monkey and the Endangered Ader’s duiker.