April Update: Megafauna tagging, Earth Day and shark aggregations

World Earth Day

We celebrate our planet Earth every day through conducting surveys, analysing data and monitoring the incredible wildlife that the Bazaruto Archipelago has to offer. As part of Earth Day, the team conducted coral reef exploratory surveys to understand the coral-macroalgae relation, as a result of increased observation of microalgae coverage on  coral reefs in the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park. ⁠We also further developed our megafauna, small fish and invertebrates surveys. You can join our expeditions in the BANP as a volunteer or intern.

New Sharks Tagged

The big schools of tuna moving around the Bazaruto Archipelago (spawning and migration) attracted many sharks from the end of March until mid-April. The BCSS team managed to tag three individuals: two bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas)and one oceanic blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus). The four sharks that the team did not succeed in tagging were released safely and without harm. All sharks the team encountered were female with mating/biting marks, which indicates that the large aggregations of sharks in the park are owed to breeding season.

As part of the Marine Science Program, offering volunteering and internship positions at the research station on Benguerra Island, we are currently developing topic-specific projects within the program. This offers visitors the unique chance to gain in-depth knowledge on particular subjects, like shark tagging, humpback whale individual photo-identificationor coral and megafauna diving surveys. Get in touch to apply for the Marine Science Program.

Marine Debris Collections

Last month, in collaboration with African Parks, the BCSS team collected marine debris data from two locations, and the total accumulative weight of collected material reached almost one hundred kilograms. The first site the group visited was the mudflats (site C) near the BCSS research station. Here, the vast majority of marine debris consisted of rubber (20.8 kg) and hard plastics (17 kg). At the beach location (site A), the team mostly found marine gear (14.6 kg) besides rubber (13.9 kg) and  PET bottles (3 kg). The marine debris has been processed in our waste management facility at the BCSS research station; the data has been collected through carefully sorting and  weighing the different types of marine debris.

New Paper on Acoustic Whale Research

BCSS’s partners from the Mammal Research Institute Whale Unit of University of Pretoria are working on a paper regarding the identification of cetaceans using static acoustic recorders. Recording whales’ vocalizations hydrophones provide valuable data on marine mammals that cannot be visually identified. By allowing continuous data collection, acoustics have proven to be a key method to get better knowledge on the temporal distribution of migrating species, as well identifying presence of the residential species that are normally hard to see (e.g., beaked whales).

The database, that BCSS is acquiring from the acoustic recorders, has great significance as a functional baseline essential for conservation status assessment and long-term monitoring in Mozambique. Results may have strong implications for conservation, especially as regards Bazaruto Archipelago National Park management.

Wildlife Highlights

The team encountered large shoals of yellowfin tuna north of Bazaruto Island causinglarge shark aggregations, including oceanic blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus), spinner sharks (Carcharhinus brevipinna) and bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas).

Other interesting sightings include a hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) feeding on algae, two round ribbontail rays (Taeniurops meyeni) hovering over the reef and a loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) resting on the seabed, northeast of Benguerra Island. Two grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) were seen at the cleaning stations in the area northeast of Benguerra Island too.

Updated COVID-19 Regulations for Mozambique

The government of Mozambique has updated their COVID-19 regulations last week, making it easier for travellers to enter the country. Currently, you need a valid certificate of full vaccination to enter and leave Mozambique. It is no longer required to present a negative PCR-test upon arrival. If you are not fully vaccinated, you do need a negative PCR-test, taken no longer than 72 hours before arrival. Get in touch if you would like to visit our research station on Benguerra Island as a scientist or as part of the Marine Science Program.

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