August Update: World Mangrove Day, Marine Science Workshops, Wildlife Sightings

Happy World Mangrove Day!
On the 27th of July, we celebrated #WorldMangroveDay at BCSS. Mangrove forests are complex ecosystems with many functions. In our latest article, “The Value of Mangroves for Marine Life, Coastal Communities and Climate Change”, we are deep diving into a mangrove forest’s functionality and how land and marine animals, as well as coastal communities (including Mozambique) and the planet in general, depend heavily on healthy mangrove forests. Read the article here.

July Wildlife Highlights
As humpback whale season has now started, we have spotted several individuals breaching, along with plenty of sharks, rays and other megafauna, including:

  • July 2: Three green turtles (Chelonia mydas), on the surface northeast off the coast of Benguerra Island.
  • July 3: Two humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) moving on the surface south off Magaruque Island.
  • July 11: Three reef manta rays (Mobula alfredi) feeding on the surfaceeast off the coast of Bazaruto Island. 
  • July 12: Two Jenkins rays (Himantura jenkinsii) resting together with a green turtle  (Chelonia mydas) (as pictured)and two grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) on the seabed northeast off Benguerra Island. 
  • July 20: Four humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) breaching east off Bazaruto Island and a green turtle (Chelonia mydas) accompanied by two grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) spotted east off Bazaruto Island.
  • July 21: A dugong (Dugong dugon) on the surface off the south coast of Bazaruto Island.
  • July 22: Northeast off the coast of Bazaruto Island, an eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari), four bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas), two humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) and a leopard whipray (Himantura leoparda) were spotted.

Permaculture and Waste Management Update
The BCSS gardens are in the middle of peak winter growing season, meaning our team has been busy harvesting fruits and vegetables. Permaculture manager Chloë invited the marine science interns to assist with harvesting, while educating them on the practical applications of permaculture. Because Benguerra Island is dry and the soil infiltrated with salt, the island is often considered a challenging location to grow crops however, our permaculture practices have proven there are solutions to ensure fruitful growth and delicious results. The BCSS kitchen has been stocked with tomatoes, lettuce, couve (Portuguese cabbage), spinach, chilis, bananas, mint, arugula, parsley and basil.

The interns also contributed to the weekly beach clean-ups in four different locations on Benguerra Island. In July, the team collected 198 kgs of marine litter, of which 72kg was directly from beach habitats, 86 kg from seagrass habitats and 39kg from mangrove habitats. The data has been added to the BCSS database for the scientists to analyse.

Mangrove Ecosystem Workshop
Research manager Karen Bowles presented a lecture on mangroves to our current interns. She covered subjects like the importance of these ecosystems, their adaptations and the nine types of species found here. After the lecture, the group explored one of the nearby mangrove forests on the West coast of Benguerra Island to observe different species of mangrove trees.

“I love to learn about mangrove forests as they store 10 times more carbon per hectare than terrestrial forests. This makes them a critical part of the solution to climate change, but due to deforestation mangrove forests are contiuously being lost throught the world.” – Daniel, Marine Science Intern

Interview with ZuBlu Diving
We are excited to share a new partnership with ZuBlu’s Ecoventures program. The program involves a selection of conservation-focused experiences to help connect eco-aware divers to NGOs, so they can contribute to marine conservation and research. Last month, ZuBlu invited our Media & Communications manager Iris Uijttewaal to tell them about the Ocean Observatory, the mission of BCSS and what she finds most rewarding about her work. Read the interview here.

“As the underwater world is quite literally hidden for a vast majority of people, visualization can be an incredibly powerful tool to show what is happening beneath the surface, especially in today’s online world. Seeing people engage with our content, it being the website, a social media post or simply a photo, makes me hopeful for the future.” – Iris Uijttewaal, Media & Communications Manager at BCSS

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