email a friend
printable version
Location Kenya, Coast Province
Central coordinates 40o 5.00' East  3o 20.00' South
IBA criteria A4i
Area 26,100 ha
Altitude 0 - 10m
Year of IBA assessment 2001


Site description This area comprises a complex of marine and tidal habitats on Kenya’s north coast, stretching from just south of Malindi town southwards to beyond the entrance to Mida Creek. Habitats include inter-tidal rock, sand and mud; fringing reefs and coral gardens; beds of seagrass; coral cliffs, platforms and islets; sandy beaches; and mangrove forests. Mida Creek, a large, almost land-locked expanse of saline water, mangrove (1,600 ha) and intertidal mud (580 ha), is in the southern sector of the IBA near Watamu town and Mida village, and protected by the 3,200 ha Watamu Marine National Reserve (gazetted in 1968). Its extensive mangrove forests are also gazetted as Forest Reserves, and the extreme western tip of Mida Creek is part of the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve (IBA KE007). The remaining part of the IBA, along the open coast, is protected by the Malindi Marine National Reserve (21,300 ha), gazetted in 1976 and designated as a Biosphere Reserve in 1979. Enclosed within the reserve are the Watamu and Malindi Marine National Parks (1,000 and 600 ha respectively), which afford stricter protection. The IBA includes several coral islets, notably Whale Island at the entrance to Mida Creek and within the Watamu Marine National Park.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Crab-plover Dromas ardeola winter  800 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Lesser Sandplover Charadrius mongolus winter  1,500 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Greater Sandplover Charadrius leschenaultii winter  1,250 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii breeding  1,500 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Saunders's Tern Sternula saundersi winter  5,700 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Malindi Marine National Park 630 protected area contained by site 630  
Malindi-Watamu Marine National Reserve 24,500 protected area contained by site 24,500  
Malindi-Watamu UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve 19,600 protected area contained by site 19,600  
Watamu Marine National Park 1,000 protected area contained by site 1,000  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Sea Coral reefs and keys; Open Sea; Sea cliffs & rocky shores; Shallow marine waters  -
Wetlands (inland) Intertidal mud, sand or salt flats; Mangroves  -
Forest   100%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture minor
Notes: Fishing ongoing. Lots of fishing boats observed in 2009.
nature conservation and research -
tourism/recreation major
Notes: More visitors touring the area now that lots of fishing boats are also opreating as tour boats.

Other biodiversity Mida Creek has important mangrove forests, with a high diversity of species including Ceriops tagal, Rhizophora mucronata, Bruguiera gymnorrhiza, Avicennia marina and Sonneratia alba. It is a key spawning ground for many fish species. The Marine Reserve and National Parks are important for the conservation of the fringing reefs, the famous coral gardens within the lagoons, and the sea grass beds, all with their attendant, diverse marine fauna and flora.

References Britton and Brown (1971), Brown (1975), Gang and Agatsiva (1992), Hockey et al. (1996), IUCN/UNEP (1987), Koyo (1994), Nasirwa et al. (1995a,b), Seys et al. (1995).

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mida Creek, Whale Island and the Malindi - Watamu coast. Downloaded from on 25/10/2014

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife