Captain Mohamed Lali Kombo and his crew were going about their normal day on 21 July 2015 trying to catch fish off the Kenya coastline at Kiunga Marine National Reserve when they caught something bizarre. A strange sea animal. They were quite astonished, having never seen an animal like this before.

Their day’s catch turned out to be vagrant Cape Sea Lion that had traveled 210 kilometers further north than the species has ever been recorded before. The animal had been entangled in their gilnet. They could have saved their gilnet and let the animal die. Instead, they brought it to shore for conservationists and rangers to identify and worked with the local community for hours to free it.

Once on shore, the “sea dog” was identified as an adult male Arctocephalus tropicalis (a subantarctic fur seal or, alternatively, a Cape sea lion), a species found in the southern parts of the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans.

Growing populations and warming waters in their traditional habitat could mean that they are exploring new areas in search of food and cooler water. The local people were so excited to see this new animal, and held a blessing ceremony before it was released unharmed.

“To find an animal from the Southern Ocean almost on the equator is very unusual and very exciting,” said Dr. Greg Hofmeyr of Port Elizabeth Museum at Bayworld & Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. “Its record swim may have something to do with its expanding populations, which are recovering following near extinction in the early 20th century.”

Entanglement in nets is considered one of the biggest threats to many marine animals. Gillnets are legal to use in Kenya and there are currently no regulations on mesh size limits. This means that communities who depend on these waters as their primary food source currently have no say in how and when these fisheries are being used.

“Kenya’s first Cape seal lion was quite lucky to have been found by these particular fishermen who spent hours to help set him free. With The Nature Conservancy and partners ongoing work supporting co-management with coastal communities, fewer animals will have to rely on luck to survive and thrive in these heavily fished waters,” said George Maina, Kenya Marine Project Coordinator, The Nature Conservancy.

The Nature Conservancy and other local organizations, including NRT-Coast, Fauna and Flora International, State and County Departments of Fisheries and the Kenyan Wildlife Service, are working to change that and partnering with communities along Kenya’s northern coast to support the development of fisheries co-management plans.

Strange ‘Sea Dog’ Caught off Kenya Coasthttp://kijanimedia.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/image001.pnghttp://kijanimedia.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/image001-150x150.png Sam Maina Biodiversity
Captain Mohamed Lali Kombo and his crew were going about their normal day on 21 July 2015 trying to catch fish off the Kenya coastline at Kiunga Marine National Reserve when they caught something bizarre. A strange sea animal. They were quite astonished, having never seen an animal like...
Captain Mohamed Lali Kombo and his crew were going about their normal day on 21 July 2015 trying to catch fish off the Kenya coastline at Kiunga Marine National Reserve when they caught something bizarre. A strange sea animal. They were quite astonished, having never seen an animal like this before. <a href="http://localhost/kijaniwp/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/image001.png"><img class="alignnone wp-image-778 size-full" src="http://localhost/kijaniwp/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/image001.png" alt="" width="640" height="480" /></a> Their day’s catch turned out to be vagrant Cape Sea Lion that had traveled 210 kilometers further north than the species has ever been recorded before. The animal had been entangled in their gilnet. They could have saved their gilnet and let the animal die. Instead, they brought it to shore for conservationists and rangers to identify and worked with the local community for hours to free it. Once on shore, the "sea dog" was identified as an adult male <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subantarctic_fur_seal" target="_blank">Arctocephalus tropicalis</a> (a subantarctic fur seal or, alternatively, a Cape sea lion), a species found in the southern parts of the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans. Growing populations and warming waters in their traditional habitat could mean that they are exploring new areas in search of food and cooler water. The local people were so excited to see this new animal, and held a blessing ceremony before it was released unharmed. "To find an animal from the Southern Ocean almost on the equator is very unusual and very exciting," said Dr. Greg Hofmeyr of Port Elizabeth Museum at Bayworld & Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. "Its record swim may have something to do with its expanding populations, which are recovering following near extinction in the early 20th century." Entanglement in nets is considered one of the biggest threats to many marine animals. Gillnets are legal to use in Kenya and there are currently no regulations on mesh size limits. This means that communities who depend on these waters as their primary food source currently have no say in how and when these fisheries are being used. "Kenya's first Cape seal lion was quite lucky to have been found by these particular fishermen who spent hours to help set him free. With The Nature Conservancy and partners ongoing work supporting co-management with coastal communities, fewer animals will have to rely on luck to survive and thrive in these heavily fished waters," said George Maina, Kenya Marine Project Coordinator, The Nature Conservancy. The <a href="http://blog.nature.org/science/2014/08/21/power-people-community-marine-conservation-ocean-fish" target="_blank">Nature Conservancy</a> and other local organizations, including <a href="http://www.nrt-kenya.org/what-is-nrt-coast" target="_blank">NRT-Coast</a>, <a href="http://www.fauna-flora.org" target="_blank">Fauna and Flora International</a>, State and County Departments of Fisheries and the Kenyan Wildlife Service, are working to change that and partnering with communities along Kenya's northern coast to support the development of fisheries co-management plans.