After more than two hours of a boat ride into the Indian Ocean via Watamu, the fishing line trailing the boat started jerking.
A small commotion followed as the skipper Jackson shouted “Fish!” and immediately turned off the motor. There were six of us rookies in the Hemingways boat, and we all gathered hastily as the boat crew expertly hauled in the feisty fish.
The shiny blue and silver animal with a long sharp snout, black eyes and poky mane-like lines on its spine wiggled vigorously, trying to let go of the hook and jump back into the water. But in a matter of seconds it was breathing its last on one corner of the wooden deck, watching us no doubt as we stared at it in wonder.
We caught a fish. A Wahoo. A massive 12 kilogram beauty that all of us were dying to claim as trophies. And that was just the beginning of a deep-sea fishing venture, one of the growing sporting events at the vast blue surrounding the Watamu Bay.
Enormous, choppy, and magnificent. As far as the eye could see, a wet dark blue expanse was separated only by spots of white waves. The sun shone through the clouds that early morning, making a silver reflection of itself in the water. Looking on keenly, a couple of sea turtles come up for air and vanish as quickly, back into the bottomless pit that I was beginning to realise was a whole new world waiting to be discovered.
Birds circled several spots, indicating that there were goodies underneath. We ambled along waiting for some action. Suddenly Jackson turned the boat and started whistling.
“Did you see the dolphins?! There they are!” he said in an excited shout. He roughly handed me his swanky blue OKEY shades and I could see! Praise Jesus! The shiny blue glare cut the reflection from the bobbing waves and I could suddenly see under the surface of the water! Green, blue, and now two massive dolphins, swimming strong and fast around our boat that looked so small all of a sudden!
They danced together, jumping in and out of the water like professional synchronised swimmers. We clapped and whistled, and then the show ended as quickly as it had begun. This is the deep blue sea, barely eight nautical miles from the beach front of Hemingways Resort.
Ferdinand Omondi of NTV got ready as a second line started jerking, sitting on a special seat at the deck and sweating slightly as he pulled and dipped the line, pulled and dipped, until the fish was brought in. Due to its size, Jackson’s team decided to quickly hook it up and drop it back as live bait for a shark perhaps? I couldn’t wait.
An hour or so later, there was no shark and sadly, neither was there a whale.
The latest fad in Watamu at the moment is whale watching. Every year between July and September, killer whales hunker through the sea around the Kenyan coast, migrating from the nether regions of South Africa and Mozambique.
Some months later, around December, they start making their way back, according to research by the four-year-old Watamu Marine Association.
Chairman Steve Trott says several whales have been spotted and this several dolphins too.
“All whale tails are individual, and this helps us identify the different ones with photographic evidence too. When it comes to dolphins, no two dorsal fins are the same. A lot of fishermen help us by taking pictures of the animals and documenting them with us for records purposes,” he said.
Steve says it’s no small deal that even Killer Whales have been spotted along the bay; massive 9 metre-long creatures that weigh up to 22 tons. Humpback Whales, at 18 metres long, can also be spotted in the ocean waters,
“Now that we know they are here, we want to start documenting the numbers and this will help us with our conservation efforts. One of the crucial things there is education too, and the fishermen around here are very cooperative.”
For visitors to the area, guidelines are available in booklet form and even on www.watamu.biz, to help encourage responsible tourism. Hemingways Resort are pioneers in supporting the Association, and double up whale watching packages with their deep sea fishing ventures.
In November, more than 80 anglers will converge at Watamu for the Deep Sea Fishing Challenge, where the tag and release method is encouraged. Anglers from as far as South Africa will take their boats out to sample the scenery and enjoy it responsibly.
It is perfect as a break from lions, buffaloes and Bob’s, just remember to carry your sunscreen, drinking water and pills to prevent sea-sickness.