I met today with the KWS Kisite Marine Park Warden, Yussuf. This was the first time we met and it was nice to put a face to a name. We resolved to push for an MOU between the EAWST and the KWS. Our ultimate goals are to illegalise the whale shark trade in Kenya, carry out an aerial survey and put in place a proper system for whale shark eco-tourism in our waters. Lots to do!
I also met our super star local pilot Peter Zanetti, who has so selflessly helped with us with our whale shark tagging. He flies up and down tireless, spotting sharks and guiding the boats to the hot spots, keeping everyone happy both researchers and tourists alike!
And BIG news! Our researcher, Brent Stewart, has just arrived all the way from San Diego, California. It was wonderful to see each other again after a year of planning, emailing and hoping. He endured a 30 hour plus flight to get here and arrive in one piece, amazingly. Our gyrocopter pilot, Mike Cheffings, also arrived in one piece, perhaps more amazingly (!!), all the way from Langata in Nairobi. It took him 5 hours to fly down to Diani and he landed on the beach in front of Aqualand with style. We were all agog at this little green helicopter circling for a bit and then landing right in front of us. Brent arrived with all manner of goodies – high tech radios, tags, chocolate! We toasted Expedition 2008 – Ronnie the manager of Pinewoood Village, providing the accomodation to the team; Volker Bassen our founder and local expert; Simon Englefield, director of Southern Cross Scuba and Camp Kenya, providing the boat and other logistical support; Simon and Ruth our volunteers.
It is the beginning of something special – we could all feel that.
Ready, steady, TAG!!