December Update: New Article on Climate Change, Crescendo Azul Conference and Internships Open for 2022

New Article: Climate Change and the West Indian Ocean

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) has incited much global discussion about its successes and failures. In the spirit of the summit, we elaborate on the importance of research and continuous data in order to find solutions to the major threat to our planet. In this article, we highlight the impact on the ocean, the specific challenges of Mozambique and identify which research themes of the BCSS Ocean Observatory are linked.

“Approximately 90% of excess heat is stored in the oceans, compared to 1% in the warming atmosphere. With the rapid increase in greenhouse gasses over the past 50 years, the ocean is storing more heat than ever before. Mozambique experiences exponential damage of coral reefs owing to rising temperatures and acidification, which in turn affects biodiversity and ecology of habitats.”
– Dr. Mario Lebrato, Chief Scientist and Director of BCSS

Ocean acidification poses serious threats to calcifying organisms like corals, plankton and shellfish, as it dissolves their skeletons and shells.

Dive Master and Marine Science Internships 2022: Applications Now Open

We are now accepting applications for Dive Master and Marine Science Internships for 2022. Whether you are interested in marine conservation and want to learn new skills in the field of research, or are a marine biologist who wants to be immersed in the day to day work at a research station in the heart of the Bazaruto Archipelago, our Marine Science Programs are tailored to bring you a step closer to your future vision. The incredible underwater world around Benguerra Island also allows for exceptional Dive Master Internships, teaching you everything you need in regard to scuba diving safety measures, dive theory and underwater skills. The internships will give you plenty of time to learn more about your interests and develop your career-path in terms of marine research, remote conservation and socio-economic development work. Click here for more information about the 2022 programs and how to apply.  

BCSS Featured at Crescendo Azul (Growing Blue) Conference in Vilankulo

On November 18 and 19, Vilankulo hosted the second Crescendo Azul (Growing Blue) Conference. The conference is part of Mozambique’s commitment to further Sustainable Development Goal 14: ‘conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development’. BCSS was featured in a 20-minute documentary broadcasted at the event, which included video footage of the research station and an interview with the team. The aim of the conference is to promote the sharing of consultation, alignment and knowledge needed to implement SDG 14’s remit in Mozambique and the Western Indian Ocean region.

Marine Debris Collection Update

In November, marine debris was collected on the North and West shores of Benguerra Island (see image below), resulting in an average total of 40kg. The debris consisted of numerous items; from common plastic bottles and cooking oil containers, to fishing line and toothbrushes. The types of items are carefully put into the database, alongside the estimated origin of the debris. The vast majority of pollution comes from Mozambique and South Africa, though items from Pakistan and India have been collected too. This makes for interesting findings and we are eager to continue building this database so it may be used for research in the future. 

PNAS Article Correction Regarding Seawater Mg:Ca and Sr:Ca Ratios

Chief Scientist and Director of BCSS, Dr. Mario Lebrato, recently finished a correction for PNAS article “Global variability in seawater Mg:Ca and Sr:Ca ratios in the modern ocean”, which was first published in August last year. The nine year study, led by Kiel University (CAU) and GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Germany, challenges the elemental stability of the ocean, which has been largely accepted in the science community for the last 100 years. The paper is significant, as it changed the timeline of the development of the ocean, as we know it. Read more about the paper on our website, read the original paper on the PNAS website or see the correction here.

“The correction is significant to the scientific community working on seawater Mg:Ca and Sr:Ca ratios as well as those using the ratios to calculate other parameters, because it is critical to be as accurate as possible. These ratio calculations change very slowly, and a small change in percentage can mean a big chance for other measurements.“ – Dr. Mario Lebrato, Chief Scientist and Director of BCSS

The correction was regarding the Sr:Ca ratio; an analytical error was found which resulted in Dr. Mario Lebrato changing the ratio percentage to 1-3%. The conclusions of the study remain unchanged.

Volunteers and Interns Contributing to Conservation Work

Last month, we had two volunteers on site on Benguerra Island. They have been of great help regarding mapping parts of the Bazaruto Archipelago, using GIS (Geographic Information System), while learning more about the data BCSS collects and the science behind the Ocean Observatory. The GIS platform is an internal tool used at BCSS to visualise all data layers, for example the distribution of animals in the BANP. The interns also helped with lab work, digitising data and maintaining underwater equipment. Interested in volunteering or interning at BCSS? Click here to read more about our programs.

Chief Scientist Dr. Mario Lebrato Featured in BBC Article Regarding Taiwan’s Acidic Underwater Hot Springs

In the light of the recent eruption of a volcano on the Canary Island La Palma, BBC reached out to Dr. Mario Lebrato regarding ongoing research being executed off the coast of Taiwan. BBC’s article focuses on the significant oceanic parameters found on the eastern side of Turtle Island, 12 km off Taiwan’s north-eastern coast. As part of a ten-year time series study, led by our partner the Institute of Geosciences at the University of Kiel, Dr. Mario Lebrato has dived the area many times in order to study how marine organisms can live in seawater with a chemical composition containing heavy metals, high acidity levels, a temperature up to 100 °C and the lowest naturally found pH levels on earth. This information may give the scientists an insight into how life evolved in the first few millions of years after life started on earth. Read the full article here.

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