Malindi and Watamu Marine National Park
Both Malindi and Watamu Marine National Parks are incorporated in the same Marine National Reserve. Famous for their vast stretches of casuarina-fringed white sandy beaches, the coastal resorts of Malindi and Watamu are also world leaders in the accessibility, beauty and diversity of marine life which lives just off-shore on Barracuda and North Reef coral reefs, and Turtle and Whale Islands. These are the nesting ground for roseate and bridled terns from June to September when they should not be disturbed and are protected by razor sharp rocks and rough sea.
Watamu Marine National Park and Reserve encompasses the Mida Creek mangrove forest where young coral begins its existence before the tides take it out to the reefs beyond. The forest roots are rich in fish, crabs, prawns and oysters and are also excellent for birdwatching. Tewa Caves, near the mouth of the creek, are partly underwater where Giant Groupers (up to 800lbs) co-exist with many other tropical fish species. Floating slowly over the coral beds you get to see brilliantly coloured marine fishes of bizarre shapes, spiny fish urchins, brightly hued seas slugs, crabs and starfish.
Shore birds include sanderlings, curlew sandpipers, little stints, whimbrel and greenshanks and three species of plovers: grey, great sand and mongolian sand. Non-breeding visitors include terns and gulls – swift, lesser crested and saunders’ little terns and the sooty or hemprich’s gull.
On the mainland can be found Giant Monitor Lizards, dik dik, Antelope, mongoose and monkey species.
The coral reefs are home to over 140 species of hard and soft corals. Their symbiotic relationship with the chlorophyll generating plants give the corals their spectacular night-time phosphorescent colours. The reef plays a diverse role.
As well as bio-diversity strongholds, they are breeding grounds for fish and other marine life. They provide a vital barrier against the force of the sea, protecting marine organisms and tourist recreation. They also keep out dangerous sharks common to the deeper waters, and their colour and the exotic coral fish they support provides a major attraction.