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Malindi Marine National Park is located on the most attractive coral-sand beach.


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Malindi Marine National Park.

The Malindi Marine Park starts at its southern end, stretches from Leopard Point to a spot just south-west of Sand Island; then northwards along Stork Passage to beyond the tip of North Reef, and from there back to the beach at Chanoni Point.

The coastline of the Malindi Marine Park is an attractive coral-sand beach. Low tide exposes more sand and patches of seaweed, broken by shallow pools and channels. Between the shoreline and the two main reefs, North Reef and Barracuda Reef, runs Barracuda Channel. The water here is deep for normal goggling, but the sandy bottom with its rich growth of seaweed harbors numerous shells, particularly the common spider conch, which may often be seen on the shallower edges of the Channel.

MARINE LIFE IN MALINDI

Barracuda Reef lies on the shoreward side of the North Reef, which protects it from heavy seas, and is constantly washed by the flow of water through Barracuda Channel. The lowest tides expose the tips of only a few coral heads the rest of the reef shows up as a smooth slick on the surface.

The main bulk of the Malindi National Park reef appears to be potato coral, which, on the shoreward side, looms up from about 30 feet. There are the stately branching stag horn corals, delicate spiky-looking finger coral; rounded lumps of intricate brain coral; the madrepore species with their pink tips and the circular mushroom corals. Less popular as a fish home and not as common as the other corals is the fungus coral. It derives this unattractive name from its resemblance to the flat, fan-shaped fungus that sometimes grows around the trunks of trees. There is a large and very spectacular outcrop of this coral on the Barracuda Reef.

Where there is coral, there are coral fish seen in colorful crowds. Perhaps the easiest to pick out will be the Moorish idols. Their striking black and yellow stripes, pointed snout and long trailing dorsal fin would be hard to miss in any crowd and their stately progress sets them apart from the general bustle.

There are also localized fishes, which rarely stray far from the protection of their chosen havens. The little black and white coral fish, sometimes called bulls - eyes or sergeant - major fishes are usually found hovering round a clump of madrepore coral; the beautiful anemone fish, pinky-gold with a pale dorsal stripe, make their home among the tentacles of stinging sea anemones.

Also seen, the clown fish, similar in shape to the anemone fish but its colors are rich brown, a couple of sky blue stripes and orange fins, which lives among the tentacles of the anemone.

A third fish to be found with anemones is the domino fish, marked, as its name implies, with three white spots on a black background. Many of the coral fish have favorite holes in or under the coral, but use them mainly for resting or for hiding when danger threatens. Over, around and among these more static creatures flows a bewildering variety of fish of every conceivable shape and color. At first the observer retains only hazy impressions-a shifting blue-green veil of demoiselles, a splash of yellow butterfly fish, the brilliant blue streak of a cleaner wrasse, blue and yellow, red and green, striped, spotty or blotchy.

All these can be seen by non-swimmer from the comfort of a glass-bottomed boat; however, if you are diving with face mask and flipper, you may find richer life still under overhanging pieces of rock or coral like the spiny lobster or the beautiful feathery scorpion fish.

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