East African Coasts: Marine life from Madagascar to MombasaLatest update October 12, 2018 Started on October 12, 2018
East Africa’s coastline is home to extensive mangroves, seagrasses, productive coral reefs, and thousands of marine species, including threatened sharks and marine mammals. However, human activities, such as overfishing and coastal development, are putting severe pressure on these ecosystems. We are collecting robust scientific data to inform conservation actions that aim to improve the ecological health of these biologically rich ecosystems.
The Western Indian Ocean (WIO) is a biologically, socially and economically diverse region. The region is home to more than 30 species of marine mammals, including whales, dolphins and the threatened dugong, and more than 220 species of sharks and rays – nearly a quarter of the world’s shark and ray species, including at least 56 endemic species. There are extensive, diverse and productive coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass meadows, which play important ecological roles such as feeding areas and nurseries for many threatened species.
However, nearly 70 million people living within 100 km of the coastline are dependent on the natural marine and coastal resources in the region for their livelihoods, income and, for some, their only protein intake. Extensive human impact in the region, including overharvesting of marine and coastal resources, coastal pollution and degradation associated with coastal development, and ocean noise from shipping and industry, are having severe impacts on marine and coastal ecosystems and species. Working in coral reef, mangrove and other coastal habitats, as well as the pelagic environment, across Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique, WCS is collecting biological, ecological, fishery and socio-economic data, for science-based conservation.
Our activities include surveying coral reefs, mapping habitats as part of establishing new marine protected areas, mapping seagrass habitats as part of efforts to conserve dugongs and their habitat, monitoring the impacts of ocean noise and ship strikes, studying threatened shark and ray communities, community engagement, education and awareness, and engaging with governments to promote and develop appropriate environmental policies and legislation.
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