Kisite-Shimoni IMMA

Size in Square Kilometres

726 km2

Qualifying Species and Criteria

Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin – Tursiops aduncus

Criterion B (1)

Indian Ocean humpback dolphin – Sousa plumbea

Criterion A; B (1)

Humpback whale – Megaptera novaeangliae

Criterion C (1)

Marine Mammal Diversity 

Dugong dugon, Megaptera novaeangliae, Sousa plumbea, Stenella longirostris, Tursiops aduncus


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The Kisite-Shimoni IMMA is located in the coastal waters of southern Kenya adjacent to the Tanzanian border and includes  the Kisite-Mpunguti National Marine Park and Reserve. A small resident population of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) has been the regular target of dolphin watching tourism in the area. The population shows a high degree of site fidelity and relies on the habitat within the area for both feeding and breeding. Endangered Indian Ocean humpback dolphins (Sousa plumbea) and spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) are also observed within the Kisite-Shimoni area year-round.  Between July and October each year, the habitat is also used for both calving and nursing by humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) from the Southern Hemisphere designated as ‘Breeding Stock C’ by the International Whaling Commission.

Description of Qualifying Criteria

Criterion A – Species or Population Vulnerability

The Indian Ocean humpback dolphin is currently designated under the IUCN Red List as Endangered (Braulik et al., 2017a).  There is a population of Indian Ocean humpback dolphins that occur within the waters of the area that is estimated to number approximately 100 individuals (Morley et al. 2011, Meyler et al. 2011).

Criterion B: Distribution and Abundance

Sub-criterion B1: Small and Resident Populations 

The near-shore waters of the Shimoni coast are home to resident Indo-Pacific bottlenose and humpback dolphins. Based on a robust dataset of 367 photo-identification sessions (137 individuals identified) collected over 551 dedicated vessel-based surveys (~13850km of survey effort) between January 2006 and December 2009, the population size of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins was estimated as ranging from 19 individuals (95% CI: 11–33) to a maximum of 104 dolphins (95% CI: 78–139) with a mean of 62 dolphins estimated (SE: 6.66) (Pérez-Jorge et al. 2016). The individual recapture rate ranged from 1 to 75 with an average of 19 (SD: 19.76) recaptures along the study period 2006-2009. There was a very high degree of residence of individuals within the area and a low proportion of transient individuals in the population (Pérez-Jorge et al. 2016). Abundance estimates were roughly stable from 2006 to 2009 (Pérez-Jorge et al. 2016).  Similarly, it is estimated that there are approximately 104 Indian Ocean humpback dolphins that utilize the area (Meyler et al. 2011).

Criterion C: Key Life Cycle Activities

Sub-criterion C1: Reproductive Areas

Long-term photo-identification programs provides strong information on the importance of Kisite as a reproductive area for the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin. From 2006 to 2012, a total of 182 individuals were identified around the Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Protected Area and surrounding waters, with at least 27 individuals identified as females, accounting for approximately 15% of the population (Pérez-Jorge, S, unpublished data; Kenya Marine Mammal Network Newsletter 3). This area is an important reproductive habitat for humpback whales, as it is used regularly every year for calving and nursing. During the period 2007-2012, 61 individuals were photo-identified passing through the study area of Kisite-Mpunguti MPA (Pérez-Jorge unpublished data, Kenya Marine Mammal Network Newsletter 3).

Supporting Information

Cockcroft, V.G., Findlay, K.P. Guissamulo, A.T., Lindsay West, Mohamed, M. 2018. Dugongs (Dugong dugon) of the Western Indian Ocean Region: – Identity, Distribution, Status, Threats and Management. Western Indian Ocean Science Association Final Technical Report.143pp.

Heithaus, M., Kiszka, J., Cadinouche, A., Dulau-Drouot, V., Boucaud, V., Pérez-Jorge, S. and Webster, I. 2017. Spatial variation in shark-inflicted injuries to Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) of the western Indian Ocean. Marine Mammal Science, 33: 335-341

Kenya Marine Mammal Network. 2012-2013.  Newsletters 1-4.  Available online:

Pérez-Jorge, S., Louzao, M., Oro, D., Pereira, T., Corne, C., Wijtten, Z., Gomes, I., Wambua, J. and Christiansen, F. 2017. Estimating the cumulative effects of the nature-based tourism in a coastal dolphin population from southern Kenya. Deep Sea Research II: Topical Studies in Oceanography. 140: 278-289.

Pérez-Jorge, S., Gomes, I., Hayes, K., Corti, G., M. Louzao, M and Oro, D. 2016. Effects of nature-based tourism and environmental drivers on the demography of a small dolphin population. Biological Conservation, 197: 200-208.

Pérez-Jorge, S., Pereira, T., Corne, C., Wijtten, Z., Omar, M., Katello, J., Kinyua, M. Oro, D. and Louzao, M. 2015. Can static habitat protection encompass critical areas for highly mobile marine top predators? Insights from coastal East Africa. PLoS ONE 10(7).

Pérez-Jorge, S., Pereira, T., Corne, C., Wijtten, Z., Omar, M., Katello, J., Kinyua, M. Oro, D. and Louzao, M .2015. Integrative assessment of human dimension on the conservation of the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin in Kenya. Devotes-Euro Marine Summer School, Spain.

Articles from periodicals or journals (issues, volumes):

Findlay, K.P., Cockcroft, V.G., and AT Guissamulo. 2011. Dugong abundance and distribution in the Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique. African Journal of Marine Science 2011, 33(3): 441-452

Papers delivered during meetings or conferences:

Morley, K., Pérez-Jorge, S., Omar, M., Lemarkat, R., and Corti, G. 2011. Abundance and spatial distribution of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) and possible threats on the south coast of Kenya. Proceeding in the 7th Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association, Kenya.

Gilbert Mwang’ombe, M., Pérez-Jorge, S., Katana Charo, K., Kahindi Yaa, J., Njuguna, N., Trott, S.J., and Spilsbury, J.H. 2015. Cetacean species distribution and encounter rates in the Malindi – Watamu National Marine Reserve 2011 – 2014. Proceeding in the 9th Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association, Kenya.

Pérez-Jorge, S., Gomes, I., Morley, K., Omar, M., Lemarkat, R., Oro, D., Karczmarksi, L and Corti, G. .2011. Cetaceans around Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Protected Area (Kenya): Spatio-temporal distribution and encounter rate. Proceeding in the 7th Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association, Kenya.

Pérez-Jorge, S., Gomes, I., Crouthers, R., Lemarkat, R. and Corti, G. .2010. Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) population study of Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Protected Area, East Africa. Proceeding in the European Cetacean Society Annual Meeting in Stralsund, Germany.


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