A dolphin swim depends on a calm sea and dolphins in a playful mood – fortunately a common scenario. Each day trip is a unique experience crafted from the day’s ingredients. Some things remain constant, however, – the stunning beauty of coral islands carved by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, a magnificent coral reef (that many have compared with the Great Barrier Reef and the Red Sea), Dolphin Dhow’s romantic sailing dhows and their friendly crews that delight in tending to your every whim, and an exotic Swahili lunch served “al-fresco” on board in a tropical island cove.
You don’t need to swim like a dolphin to enjoy Kisiti Marine Park’s delights. With experienced guides in the water and buoyancy aids and life-rings, even non-swimmers can join the fun! First-timer or experienced snorkeler – you are in for a treat.
Shimoni was the original headquarters of the Imperial East Africa Company, in the years before Kenya even became a British Colony and is located 80km south of Mombasa on the Kenya coast. It is an area of stunning natural beauty made famous of late by the magnificent Kisiti Marine National Park, where visitors regularly swim with the resident dolphins.
The Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin is also known as the Chinese White Dolphin and these dolphins can be found in areas from the coastal waters of the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific Ocean, ranging from the Northern East China Sea to New South Wales, Australia.
Born in varying shades of light black to dark grey, their colouring change with age, within weeks after their birth, their colour fades to a light grey and slowly as they mature, changes again to become pink or white. These dolphins rarely reach a length of 2.5m. At birth they are approx. 1m and by the time they are fully grown adults can weigh up to 200kg.
The Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin differs from other species of dolphins not only in their colour but also in body structure. The dorsal fin is smaller and located further away from the head, their flippers are also smaller. The shape of the head bears some resemblance to that of the bottlenose dolphin although the snout is usually more elongated and the forehead less distinct. One of the major differences with these dolphins also, is the fact that they can occupy both fresh and soft water regions.
Humpback dolphins feed on fish that live close to the seabed and fish that live on reef but have been known to also eat squid and other such creatures. In general they feed independently of others in the group but some interesting feeding behaviour has been observed in Mozambique. These particular dolphins have been seen to chase fish onto sandbanks where they strand, the dolphins then beach themselves on the sand banks, grab the stranded fish and wriggle back into the water again.
Dolphins physically catch their food with simple peg-like teeth which are designed for grasping slippery, fast moving animals rather than for chewing and usually the dolphins generally swallow their prey whole. Their stomachs are able to process large chunks of food.
A close encounter with a dolphin in the wild is a thrilling experience and one that stays with people for the rest of their lives. Some dolphins live in remote areas far out to sea but in many areas of the world, they can be encountered just a few meters from the shore. There is something very special about dolphins when watching them in the wild, and it is impossible not to marvel at their complete mastery of the underwater world they call home.