June Update: First Humpbacks Sightings, Interview with AISM, the ReMoTURB project and Wildlife Sightings

The Start of Humpback Whale Season

As the humpback whale migration season is in full swing, our volunteers are privileged to have witnessed these majestic sea nomads in the waters of Bazaruto Archipelago last month. The BCSS team records sightings alongside spatiotemporal and environmental meta-data collection, and aims to shed more light on the occurrence, distribution, and behaviour of whales, along with photo-identification sampling by launching a long-term whales monitoring project with the support of leading regional cetaceans’ experts who are going to visit BCSS this season. This program will be available for volunteers and interns in 2023.

Read our article on the role of humpback whales in the Bazaruto Archipelago.

Karen Bowles Interviewed by AISM

Our Research Manager, Karen Bowles, was recently interviewed by the American International School of Mozambique (AISM) in the light of World Oceans Day last month. Aimed at the students aged 5-18 years old, Karen speaks about the BCSS Ocean Observatory and its diverse repertoire of research methodology, highlighting our intricate relationship with the ocean and importance of the open access scientific data.  

“Have you ever thought about what kinds of marine ecosystems and animals we can find in Mozambique? Where are they, and why are they there? One day, some of you will be helping us answering some of the questions we have about the ocean. I look forward to that day!”

See the interview below and click here to read our article with the interview transcript.

BCSS Supporting ReMoTURB Project

ReMoTURB is a research project from the Instituto Oceanografico de Moçambiquein partnership with the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.The project concerns recruitment success in Mozambique fisheries in a highly turbulent shelf ocean ecosystem and climate change. The aim is to develop an integrated understanding of the coastal/shelf system, including the role of physical drivers, biogeochemistry, productivity, biodiversity and ultimately to relate these tofisheries and coastal communities.

The BCSS Ocean Observatory contributed data to the research through our open data system and earlier this year, the team and volunteers explored several locations in the Bazaruto Archipelago to decide on ideal study sites for ReMoTURB. During their next visit, the ReMoTURB team aims to deploy an array of sensors which BCSS will maintain. The BCSS Ocean Observatory provides the logistic platform and capability to access this remote part of the Indian Ocean, and to facilitate collaborative operational oceanography work in the region.

Volunteers’ and Interns’ Contributions

Last month, two volunteers and four interns focused on identifying key marine life in the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park through self-study and lectures given by the on-site scientists, so they can better assist with spatial mapping (Theme 2: Species Identification & Habitat Mapping). We teamed up with African Parks for themonthly beach clean ups (see Marine Debris Collections below), and the volunteers and interns conducted coral and megafauna surveys. In addition, they contributed historical environmental data for the BCSS study areas and assisted with creating photo and video content. We have limited positions available for our Marine Science Program in August, apply now.

Marine Debris Collections

The team visited several different sites last month on Benguerra Island.  BCSS works together with  African Parks to collect and monitor the marine debris on the island. A total of 144,4 kg of waste was found in total, of which 63,3 kg solely at site D (mangrove habitat). At the mangroves, much of the marine debris was clothing and marine gear that gets entangled in the trees’ roots. The two beach sites (site B and A) accumulated 81,1 kg together. Here, the waste consisted mainly of marine gear and plastics (hard, soft and PET).

All marine debris was brought to the BCSS waste management facility to be sorted and weighed, whereafter the data was added to the database. If you would like to gain access to the data BCSS collects on marine debris found on Benguerra Island, please get in touch via info@bcssmz.org

Wildlife Highlights

Humpback whale season started last month, and the team had already recorded one sighting during diving expedition southeast of the park. The team encountered a group of humpback whales. The group of approximately seven whales was accompanied by spinner dolphins, which made it an incredible experience for both BCSS staff and volunteers.

• 10 June: A hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) was sighted northeast from Benguerra Island, feeding on algae.
• 11 June: Two round ribbontail rays (Taeniura meyeni) were seen hovering above the reef northeast from Benguerra Island.
• 12 June: A loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) was spotted on the sandy bottom around reefs northeast from Benguerra Island.
• 13 June: Two grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) were sighted at cleaning stations on a reef northeast from Benguerra Island.
• 14 June: A round ribbontail ray (Taeniura meyeni) was seen northeast from Benguerra Island.
• 16 June: Two grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) were spotted northeast from Benguerra Island at cleaning stations.
• 17 June: A dugong (Dugong dugon) was sighted on the surface just south of Bazaruto Island.
• 19 June: A reef manta ray (Manta alfredi) was seen at the cleaning station north from Bazaruto Island.
• 24 June: A green turtle (Manta alfredi) was spotted swimming over a reef northeast from Benguerra Island.
• 25 June: A group of approximately seven humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) were accompanied by a group of spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris)(>20 individuals). The team also saw a grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) at a cleaning station in the same area, south of Magaruque Island.

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