|National report: marine biodiversity in Kenya – the known and the unknown|
Fondo, E. (2003). National report: marine biodiversity in Kenya – the known and the unknown. KMFRI: Mombasa. 19 pp.
The Kenyan coastline is about 600 km in length and forms part of the western border of the Indian Ocean. It has an almost continuous fringing coral reef usually running parallel to the coast. Kenya’s territorial sea and Exclusive Economic Zone extend 12 nm and 200 nm respectively, with the total area of EEZ being 118 km2. The Kenyan coast runs in a southwesterly direction from the Somalian border in the north 1o41’S to 4o40’S at the border with Tanzania. Climate and weather systems on the Kenyan coast are dominated by the two distinct monsoon periods. From November to March, the north-east monsoon dominates and is comparatively dry. End of March to September the south-east monsoon dominates bringing heavy rains. Mean annual total rainfall ranges from 508 mm to1016 mm. Relative humidity is comparatively high all year round reaching its peak during the wet months of April and July. Living coral reefs occur all along the length of the Kenyan coast. A fringing reef colonizes the shallow parts of the continental shelf along most of the Kenyan coastline to a depth of around 45 km and at a distance of between 500 m to 2 km offshore, except where river systems create conditions of low salinity and high turbidity which limit coral growth. The estimated continental shelf area is about 19,210 km2. Two main rivers drain into the Indian Ocean: the Tana River (850 km) and Sabaki River (650 km). The Tana River enters the sea at Ungwana Bay and discharges 3 million tonnes of sediment per year, while the Sabaki River enters the Indian Ocean north of Malindi and discharges about 2 million tonnes of sediment per year. The sea surface temperature ranges from 24oC to 29oC depending on the monsoon season. Salinities vary from a minimum of 34.5 ppt to a maximum of 35.4 ppt.