Marine Education Centre

About

The Marine Education Centre opened its doors in September 2018 as a free, public resource for marine education, and a base for marine organisations working in the area. It contains informational exhibits on marine ecosystems, sea turtles, whale sharks, cetaceans, marine pollution and overfishing, as well as interactive games, and informative materials about each partnering organisation. The centre is open to the public daily between 3pm and 5pm and private educational groups can be booked between 9am and 3pm.

Objectives

The aim of the Marine Education Centre is to spread awareness of marine conservation, both specific to the local area of Diani, and nonspecific to be utilised anywhere on this planet. We believe everyone can play their part in protecting the world’s oceans and all the life which inhabits them.
To achieve this, we have partnered with a number of organisations to spread marine education and partake in marine conservation activities, and via our sponsorship from the Sands at Nomad Hotel and Diving the Crab, we have been able to conduct in-water monitoring of species along the Diani coastline in order to better understand our local environment and so work to protect it.

Projects and Programmes

Exhibits

Education

Scuba Diving

Internships

Marine Life Interactions

Sustainable Fish and Seafood

Quarterly Beach Cleaning

Trash to Treasure Workshop

Diani Sea Turtle Festival

Presentation and Movie Evenings

Private Tours

At the Marine Education Centre, we are regularly updating our current exhibits and developing new ones. We are in the process of finishing a sustainability exhibit to display outside the centre, and a mangrove, bird and tide pool exhibit for The Sands at Chale Island. If you wish to display information on marine related topics at your place of work or for guests in your home, please contact us and we can develop the resources to suit your needs.

Our partnership with the Conservation Education Society has enabled the development of a number of educational programmes for both tourists and students, nationals and internationals, and for different age groups.
The Marine Education Centre also offers a 1-week marine ecology programme for students 13 years and over on the nearby Chale island. The course includes an interactive presentation and fieldwork activity for each marine topic covered. If you are interested in this programme, please contact us for further information.

The marine team currently has four scuba divers from three organisations working together to gather vital information about marine life. The team record all sightings of megafauna such as sea turtles, rays, sharks and cetaceans, as well as ecologically important, economically significant and endangered species, such as the Napoleon wrasse and giant grouper. The team’s divers also collect identification photographs of sea turtles for the Olive Ridley Project, whale sharks for the wildbook for whale sharks, and cetaceans such as bottlenose dolphins and humpback whales for the Kenya Marine Mammal Network. In order to better understand which species inhabit the Marine National Reserve between Mwachema river and Chale island, the centre is also creating a photographic biodiversity database. You can contribute to any of these efforts by submitting your diving photos to the team for identification!

In 2019 we partnered with three organisations to conduct ecosystem mapping and monitor ecosystem health within the Marine National Reserve. In partnership with The Sands at Chale Island and Diving the Crab, we sponsored four post-graduate students to conduct 11-weeks of fieldwork between Mwachema river and Gazi bay.
One of the projects focused on coral reef mapping and was in partnership with Coastal Oceans Research and Development – Indian Ocean (CORDIO) and Allen Coral Atlas (ACA). The second focused on seagrass and macroalgae with Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI). We are now in the process of planning phase two of our fieldwork to better understand the area.

We are building a series of internship programmes for students, post-graduates or anyone with free time to come and experience life as a marine biologist in Diani. Some programmes will focus on research skills, others on education skills, and one will be a combined programme so interns can experience all aspects of our work. The programmes will include short placements with each of our partnering organisations, as well as participation in our conservation action programmes for marine life in our local area. If you wish to know more, please contact us.

As part of our close partnership with Diving the Crab we have developed interaction guidelines with marine life, namely ‘how to swim with sea turtles’, ‘how to swim with whale sharks’, ‘how to observe cetaceans’, and ‘how to be responsible on the beach’. These are used in the daily dive briefings as well as being on display to spread awareness to all visitors.
We are working to expand this awareness of marine life interactions to other dive operators and to snorkel operators in the region with the aim to have all tourist operators spreading the same messages about how to responsibly interact with marine life. We wish to make people aware of what an animal is, the role it plays in its ecosystem and how we can minimize our disturbance to it. Our reach to the local community and tourists as the marine team alone is limited, but if we can have all operators spreading the same awareness messages, imagine the positive impact this will have on local marine life!
In addition, we have been working with the REEFolution Foundation to create flyers for tourists in hotels so they too can receive information about how the way in which we interact with marine life we meet on the beach or in the ocean can affect it.

Another new awareness programme we are developing focuses on informing the public on how to source sustainable fish and seafood. The information will centre around the ecological importance of specific species/families, the maturity size of species, and the method with which the animal is fished. These are important factors to consider when attempting to both maintain stocks for the future and to reduce habitat destruction today. Stay tuned for more on this programme!

The marine team at the centre are involved in every quarterly county-based beach clean-up. Our marine biologist is a captain to organise participants for the closest area of beach and work together with the Kwale Plastics Plus Collectors team, county officials and local operators to ensure each event is a success.

In partnership with Kwale Plastics Plus Collectors and The Sands at Nomad Green Team, the Marine Education Centre hosts a ‘Trash to Treasure’ workshop containing plastic and glass upcycling machines. The plastic machines can shred, melt and extrude HDPE plastics into keyring molds which are sold in the onsite boutique. The glass machines allow bottles to be cut and shaped to form glasses, vases, ash trays, candle holders, light shades and more. This workshop will continue to be developed into an educational zone to receive more visitors in the future.

Each year the marine team hosts the Diani Sea Turtle Festival to celebrate sea turtles and spread awareness about what they are, their threats, what we can do to protect them, and the work of sea turtle projects in Diani. The event is held annually on the Sunday closest to World Sea Turtle Day which is June 16th and the festival is free entry. Participants include students from Kwale Schools whose attendance expenses are fully funded by corporate sponsorships.

Monthly presentation and movie evenings are planned to spread awareness on marine life and marine conservation at Nomad Beach Bar & Restaurant. So far, we have covered topics from sea turtles, whale sharks, cetaceans and coral, through to marine biodiversity and the importance of our oceans. These evenings are held twice per month and are free entry for anyone to join. Each is hosted by a member of the marine team who is happy to answer any related questions guests may have.

We offer private guided tours of the Marine Education Centre and private presentations with our marine biologist which can be booked any day between 9am and 3pm. Pre-bookings are required, and activities can be organised. We only request that participants provide a donation for the centre and its education programmes. If you wish to make a booking, please contact us.

If you wish to visit the Marine Education Centre, we are open daily between 3pm and 5pm. Although we do not charge, we do ask guests to leave a donation if they are able. On-site, you can meet the marine team, a diverse group of individuals from several organisations including the Marine Education Centre, Conservation Education Society, Diani Turtle Watch, Olive Ridley Project, Kwale Plastics Plus Collectors and The Sands at Nomad Green Team.

To follow our work, please like our Facebook page @MarineEducationCentre and if you require further information, please contact us at info@marineeducationcentre.com.

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