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Places | Misali

Misali Island (Pemba, Tanzania)

Misali is a lovely island in the southwest of Pemba, Tanzania. To protect the island and the surrounding marine environment whilst at the same time ensuring the livelihood of local fishermen, the Misali Island Marine Conservation Area was established in 1996. For two days we explored the island, ashore and underwater with the purpose of taking video and stills to provide to the park management. We also agreed that JIOQ would put up a Misali Island page on this site.

On the first day, Haji, a ranger, guided us around the island, showing us turtle beach, giant baobabs, caves and fishing camps. In a tree we caught a glimpse of a little black face with a fringe of grey hair, a vervet monkey. There are several groups living on the island. The island is also a nesting place for Hawksbill turtles and we saw some tracks on the beach. In the evening we saw the huge tree-climbing coconut crabs that come out in the dark.

The second day we had a look at the underwater world during a dive in the channel through the reef passage and a dive on the reefs in the west. During the deep dive in the morning we encountered three huge Napoleon wrasses and a school of jacks. In the afternoon we filmed and photographed the abundance of colourful reef fish during a shallow dive.

Misali Island, the treasure of Pemba

The Misali Island Marine Conservation Project Area (MIMCA) is a community-based conservation project and its major objective is to improve the income and food security of 1,000 Misali fishing families while the marine ecosystem and its productivity are maintained. MIMCA covers about 21 square km of which the terrestrial part is but a small fraction. This small, extraordinary island is rich in unique and diverse marine and terrestrial biodiversity.

The island is covered with dense vegetation ranging from bush to high forest. This provides roosting sites for endangered Pemba Flying Fox (Pteropus voeltskowii), habitats for several troops of vervet monkey (Ceropithecus aethiops) and four species of reptiles. About 17 terrestrial bird taxa including the rare Fisher’s Turaco (Turacaco fischeri) and the Pemba endemic green pigeon (Treron australis), nest on the island.

Misali is surrounded by coral reef that descend steeply with hard corals up to 64 meters deep, making an island a preferred spot for diving. About 66% of the coral genera known in Tanzania are found at Misali Island together with over 350 fish species from 43 families. Highly threatened Green and Hawksbill sea turtles nests at Mpapaini and Mbuyuni beaches, with a minimum of 20 nests annually. The island supports a variety of indigenous and migratory sea bird species.

There is a non-extraction zone that covers part of the total conservation area. Recreational activities, passage and scientific research are permitted within the non-extraction zone, but any type of activity that depletes the area’s natural resources is not allowed (such as fishing or shell and coral collecting). Such practices are allowed within the remaining area.

Other important objectives are awareness and education among the fishing families and visitors, reef surveys and monitoring of the reef around Misali, and increasing the eco-tourim on the island to enhance financial sustainability.

For more information you can email:


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