|Location||Kenya, Coast Province|
|Central coordinates||40o 5.00' East 3o 20.00' South|
|Altitude||0 - 10m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Ornithological information See Box for key species. Mida Creek is an important passage and wintering area for Palearctic migrant waders, the coastline supports important Sterna saundersi populations, and Whale Island is a significant nesting site for Sterna dougallii. The populations of Charadrius leschenaultii, C. mongolus and Dromas ardeola at Mida Creek are internationally important, and many other species use the site: up to 6,000 waders may be present at any one time. The creek is also a significant feeding area for Egretta gularis, Sterna bengalensis and S. dougallii. Common migrant shorebirds include Calidris alba, C. ferruginea, Numenius phaeopus, Pluvialis squatarola, Charadrius leschenaultii and C. mongolus. Sterna dougallii and S. anaethetus nest on Whale Island between June and October in some years. Sterna saundersi occurs in internationally important numbers along the coastline, usually feeding close to shore. The regionally threatened Casmerodius albus occurs in small and variable numbers (maximum 15).
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.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Crab Plover Dromas ardeola||winter||-||800 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus||winter||-||1,500 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii||winter||-||1,250 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii||breeding||-||1,500 breeding pairs||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Saunders's Tern Sterna saundersi||winter||-||5,700 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Scaly Babbler Turdoides squamulata||resident||1999||-||-||Least Concern|
|Mouse-coloured Sunbird Nectarinia veroxii||resident||1999||-||-||Least Concern|
|Violet-breasted Sunbird Nectarinia chalcomelas||unknown||1999||unknown [units unknown]||-||Least Concern|
|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||-|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|Notes: Fishing ongoing. Lots of fishing boats observed in 2009.|
|nature conservation and research||-|
|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.
Management considerations The Malindi–Watamu coast is a popular tourist destination, with coral reefs one of the major attractions. Consequently there are numerous beach hotels. Management of visitors has been inadequate in the past: delicate corals were trampled on by tourists, or smashed by boat anchors. The situation is improving through tourist education, provision of moorings, and better policing. Another, more insidious threat to the reefs comes from poor land-use in the catchment area of the Sabaki river. Soil erosion has greatly increased silt loads, resulting in silt deposition in the sea just north of Malindi, reducing the growth of, or even killing corals. Fishing and other use of marine resources is permitted, under license, within the reserves but not in the parks. Over-exploitation, illegal fishing and collection of coral and shells remain problems that are difficult to control. Disturbance by tourists visiting the tern colonies on Whale Island needs to be monitored and regulated, especially now that local hotels are advertising the nesting terns as an attraction. The integrity of Mida Creek depends on conserving the mangrove forests, whose destruction appears to be accelerating. As in other mangrove areas, cutting for building poles is rife and largely uncontrolled. The creek lacks a coherent management plan, and is threatened by allocation of land for a waterside hotel development that would have a major environmental impact. Mida needs to be incorporated into conservation planning for this entire complex of protected areas. A comprehensive and integrated plan for use and conservation could also promote the growth of relatively low-impact uses such as ecotourism and bee keeping.
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 (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mida Creek, Whale Island and the Malindi - Watamu coast. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/06/2013
To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife