Politics and policy

Exotic marine business thrives as tourists seek adventure

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Marine activities have gained acceptance in Mombasa as more tourists turn to the adventurous snorkelling and scuba-diving as opposed to sun-bathing at beaches. Photo/REUTERS

Marine activities have gained acceptance in Mombasa as more tourists turn to the adventurous snorkelling and scuba-diving as opposed to sun-bathing at beaches. Photo/REUTERS 

By Abdullahi Jamaa

Posted  Friday, August 13   2010 at  00:00
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As the sun rises in Kenya’s coastal region and the tide emanating from the blue waters of the Indian Ocean subsides, tourists gear up for an adventure—it is time for snorkelling and scuba-diving inside the sea water, to observe diverse marine life.

Marine activities have gained acceptance in Mombasa as more tourists turn to the adventurous snorkelling and scuba-diving activities as opposed to sun-bathing at beaches.

Deep inside the waters north of Indian Ocean, a 10km2 of water mass is protected by one of the largest barrier reefs in the world, which stretches from the coast of Somalia, along Kenya and to southern Tanzania.

“This protected area is the Mombasa Marine National Park, it encompasses 10km2, while its national reserves extend 200kM2,” says Kenya Wildlife Service Marine Captain Abdallah Godana. “It is among the world’s best locations for a variety of marine life.”

With numerous game reserves, parks and sand beaches, Kenya is a popular destination for holidaymakers from around the world and the thriving marine industry is set to boost tourist arrivals.

The stretch of the Indian Ocean coast along Mombasa, Malindi and Likoni is vibrant with exotic marine activities.

“Its fortunes have improved in the past decade. The parks provide a food source and shelter to a vast array of living things naturally found in water. It is really one of world’s leading exotic places,” said Dr. Mohamed Omar, a senior scientist at the Coast Conservation Area.

The robust tourism industry along the Indian Ocean has left a trail of jam-packed atmosphere along the sandy beaches.

From mid-morning hours to late afternoon, the park at Mombasa is busy with a beeline of activities as tourism picks after the 2008 post- election violence.

Marine investment

Protected marine reserves in Kenya care for an unspoiled reef, protect endangered species and it is also a place where fishing is forbidden.

“The marine parks in the country are all maintained by the Kenya Wildlife Service and plenty of diverse fish can be seen by snorkels or glass-bottom boats,” said Mr Abdallah.

The Mombasa Marine National Park which was established in 1986, is one of the most visited sea parks in Kenya.

The park receives between 2,000 and 4,000 visitors every month.

It has sea water, a variety of marine life such as crabs, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, sea star fish, jelly fish and other attractions.

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