flamingoes by daniel escayola at bcss

August Update: Giant Guitarfish Encounter, Best Season for Wildlife Watching, Interns’ Spotlight & Kisawa Sanctuary

Mario’s Lectures for the Ocean University of China

Oceanographer and well-published scientist, Dr. Mario Lebrato, was invited to lecture at the Ocean University of China, located in Qingdao, as part of the university’s International Summer Course last month. Additionally, and as a member of the panel, formed by professors and politicians, Mario discussed various topics via Zoom under the overarching theme “Global Climate Actions in an Uncertain Future”. Read more about Mario’s contribution to the International Summer Course here.

Interns’ Spotlight: Giulia & Hollie

Marine Science Program interns Hollie and Giulia contributed to BCSS for four weeks, diving into the world of marine science through lectures, scuba diving the Bazaruto Archipelago, assisting with observations and participating in marine debris collections. As Giulia is currently studying for a master’s degree in Marine Sciences and Hollie is a medical lab assistant with a BsC in Human Bioscience, their CVs stood out to the BCSS team as they have the right type of qualifications, which they used to contribute to BCSS greatly. They very much enjoyed the professional training BCSS provides, and to learn more about their experience we interviewed the interns to find out more about what they’ve learnt, and what motivated them to apply for the Marine Science Program. Learn more about their experience at the BCSS station, read it here.

“BCSS stood out as somewhere I could make a meaningful contribution, even without having background in marine science. Besides, the stunning location in the heart of the Bazaruto Archipelago, with incredible coral reefs and an extensive range of megafauna, made it an easy decision for me.” – Hollie French

As Giulia is currently studying for a master’s degree in Marine Sciences and Hollie is a medical lab assistant with a BsC in Human Bioscience, their CVs stood out to the BCSS team as they have the right type of qualifications, which they used to contribute to BCSS greatly.

Wildife Highlights

Last month was filled with incredible wildlife encounters, seen both underwater and from the surface. Among the most exciting wildlife observed were hammerhead sharksgiant guitarfish, dugong and hundreds of humpback whales.   

  •  5 August: Multiple humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) were spotted northeast of Benguerra Island. 
  • 6 August: Another big group of humpbacks (M. novaeangliae)  were seen east from Bazaruto Island.
  • 7 August: A grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) and an oceanic blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) were spotted around the north tip of Bazaruto Island.
  • 9 August: Many humpback whales (M. novaeangliae) were in sight offshore of Benguerra Island. 
  • 10 August: One grey reef shark (C. amblyrhynchos) was sighted north of Bazaruto Island.
  • 16 August: A dugong (Dugong dugon) was visible from the surface north of Benguerra Island.
  • • 20 August: A smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena) was spotted from the surface east of Benguerra Island, while three grey reef sharks (C. amblyrhynchos) and a Jenkins’ whipray (Pateobatis jenkinsii) were encountered during a dive in the same area.
  • 23 August: A reef manta ray (Manta alfredi) was spotted at a cleaning station south of Benguerra Island. 
  • 25 August: A Jenkins’ whipray (P. jenkinsii) was found at a dive site northeast of Benguerra Island.
  • 26 August: Three grey reef sharks (C. amblyrhynchos) were observed circling around a cleaning station northeast of Benguerra Island. 
  • 27 August: An endangered green turtle (Chelonia mydas) was seen swimming northeast of Benguerra Island.
  • 29 August: A bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) was observed north of Bazaruto Island, while in the same area a blacktip shark (C. limbatus) was following a school of bigeye trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus).
  • 30 August: A smooth hammerhead shark (S. zygaena) and a critically endangered giant guitarfish (Rhynchobatus djiddensis) were seen northeast of Benguerra Island.

Join Us & Dive with Pelagic Sharks & Manta Rays

Last month was packed with amazing encounters, proving the period of September until November is one of the best seasons for watching wildlife around the Bazaruto Archipelago. Big shoals of tuna feeding on the surface attract pelagic sharks, including bull, tiger, oceanic blacktip sharks, and hammerheads amongst others, from September onwards. On top of that, it’s also manta ray (both reef and pelagic), whale sharks and humpback whales’ season. Year round these vibrant reefs are inhabited by various reef sharks, several types of turtles, open ocean waters are roamed by multiple species of dolphins, and seagrass habitats hold the last viable population of dugongs in the region.

If you want to experience this unparalleled biodiversity, there is a chance still, as we have a very few volunteering and internship positions available. If you don’t have much time but would like to join us for a PADI scuba course or simply recreational diving, you can book those separately. We offer 10% off for SADC residents. To book your unforgettable experience please get in touch via info@bcssmz.org. For more information visit this page.

Kisawa Santuary

Our sister property Kisawa Sanctuary is a sustainable resort built on the southern coast of Benguerra, founded by Nina Flohr. We work together with the sanctuary on a daily basis, as we provide marine and environmental information such as seasonal calendars for marine wildlife and the best sites to dive. Besides, we are consulting the sanctuary regarding topics including waste management and food sustainability. We collaborate by helping each other with logistics to minimise fuel usage and movements, which leads towards less CO2 emissions. We welcome guests from Kisawa to the BCSS station and provide them with a tour of the different buildings and their purposes, while informing them about our missions, goals, and day-to-day activities. Visit Kisawa Sanctuary’s website.

Interns’ and Volunteers’ contributions

September was a busy month for the team, so a few pairs of extra hands from our current volunteers and interns were much appreciated. Volunteer Yves successfully finished his PADI Open Water course with our Dive Instructor Mauro, whereafter he could join our exploratory offshore expeditions while practicing his diving skills. The volunteers and interns practiced their presentation skills, learned to identify many marine megafauna species as well as the different types of benthic species (e.g. sponge, coral, algae) and rolled up their sleeves to help collecting and sorting washed up marine debris. Interested in interning or volunteering with us? Apply here.

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