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Zanzibar's coastline is an underwater paradise. Bursting with marine life, it is the perfect destination for an unforgettable scuba diving and snorkelling adventure. In land too, Zanzibar is home to a catalogue of unique and endemic wildlife. Here's our guide to what to spot where in Zanzibar.
ZANZIBAR RED COLOBUS MONKEY (Procolobus kirkii)
A sub-species of red colobus monkey which is endemic to Zanzibar, this striking monkey has a coat which blurs from dark red to black, and has an unkempt white crest which gives it a slightly frazzled look. It is classified as endangered but careful conservation efforts are underway to keep numbers steady. The best place to spot these rare monkeys is in Jozani Forest.
Interesting fact: the Zanzibar red colobus monkey has a specific call in order to summon a friend.
WHALE SHARK (Rhincodon typus)
Whale sharks are slow-moving filter feeding sharks that are harmless to humans. They are the largest existing species of fish, and have been known to reach a length of over 12 metres and weigh more than 20 tonnes. Whale sharks take part in a complex annual migration and can be found off the coast of Mafia Island from November to March. Interesting fact: whale sharks have a lifespan of around 70–100 years.
Interesting fact: whale sharks have a lifespan of around 70–100 years.
HUMPBACK WHALE (Megaptera novaeangliae)
The humpback whale is an acrobatic animal which can often be seen breaching and slapping the water. They have a distinctive body shape, with unusually long pectoral fins and a knobbly head. Adults can measure up to 16 metres long and weigh around 36 tonnes, they can be found off the coast of Mafia Island from August to October.
Interesting fact: whales produce a complex song, which lasts for 10 to 20 minutes and is repeated for hours at a time.
COMMON BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN (Tursiops truncatus)
Bottlenose dolphins are grey in colour and vary in length from 2 to 4 metres and weigh between 150 and 650kg. They live in pods of anything from a couple of dolphins to around 100 individuals. Dolphins are incredibly intelligent and are capable of mimicry, use of artificial language, object categorisation and self-recognition and are found in the warm waters of the Zanzibar archipelago.
Interesting fact: dolphins search for prey primarily using echolocation.
GREEN TURTLE (Chelonia mydas)
Not noticeably green in colour, green turtles take their name from the colour of the fat found in a layer between their inner organs and shell. They feed mostly on seagrass and are found most predominantly in shallow lagoons. While individuals have been recorded with weights of up to 315kg, the average weight of adult turtles is 110–190kg.
Interesting fact: the gender of turtle hatchlings depends on their temperature during incubation.