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June Update: Start of Humpback Whale Season, Our Ocean Observatory, Dive Master Internships and More

Ocean Observatory Development Update
As BCSS’s founding principles are to understand, protect and guarantee, in the best possible way, marine science in Eastern Africa marine ecosystems, we have been working hard on the development of our unique Ocean Observatory. We strive to be an international example of research programs, with tangible results to benefit as many people as possible. The data retrieved through our multi-ecosystem time series Ocean Observatory will be free and openly shared, including baseline data to guarantee more researchers have access to critical information. We are currently working on the development of the accessibility of the database through our website. For any questions regarding the Ocean Observatory, contact us.

May Wildlife Sightings Highlights
We cruised around the park quite a lot this month, as observed and explored the archipelago and have ongoing dive courses, which resulted in an impressive list of wildlife sightings. See some of the highlights below.

  • May 6: Eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari), swimming in midwater northeast off Bazaruto Island.
  • May 11: Two green turtles (Chelonia mydas) resting east off Bazaruto Island.
  • May 12: Manta ray (Mobula alfredi) on the surface, leopard whipray (Himantura leoparda) resting on the seabed and a group of 30 spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) feeding East off Benguerra Island.
  • May 20: A devil ray (Mobula mobular) being cleaned and a feeding humpback dolphin (Sousa plumbea) east off Bazaruto Island.
  • May 22:  A nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) was with two hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), and a group of 12 spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) came past as they were feeding in one of the channels in the BANP.
  • May 25: Two loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) were spotted as well as a jenkins whipray (Himantura jenkinsii) and two green turtles (Chelonia mydas) northeast off Bazaruto Island.

Scientific Dive Centre Fully Operational
Our scientific dive centre was launched in April, and has proven to be a great asset to the research station. After becoming a PADI 5* Dive Centre, we received the Mozambican dive center license, which allows us to explore the Bazaruto Archipelago. We currently offer the Discover Scuba Diving course, Open Water course, Advanced course, Rescue course, Emergency First Responder course and Dive Master course. All our courses go hand in hand with the ongoing marine research being conducted at the research station, so every student will leave BCSS not only knowing how to dive, but also about subjects like ocean acidification, species identification and underwater ecosystems. Interested in a dive course at BCSS? Contact us.

First Humpback Whale Spotted in the Bazaruto Archipelago
On the 27h of May, the BCSS team spotted the first humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) northeast off the coast of Bazaruto. Groups of humpback whales have been spotted off the coast of South Africa and south Mozambique earlier in May as well. This indicates an early arrival of the big mammals, as the humpback whale season usually starts the end of June and lasts until late October. Most humpback whales visit the Bazaruto Archipelago in July, August and September. The whales use the coastal waters of Mozambique for mating, calving and nursing. It is a great time of the year to observe their behaviour.

The Mozambican Government to Elaborate Maritime Spatial Plan
The Mozambican Government is currently (18th of May until the 16th of June), organising public participation and thematic working group discussions to finalise the Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) process. MSP is a process where the temporal and spatial distribution of human activities in marine areas are analysed and allocated in such a way that it is ecologically, economically, and socially beneficial for as many stakeholders as possible. The aim of the MSP is to obtain contributions related to the zoning proposals, solve possible conflicts and discuss effective management rules and guidelines. We hope the MSP will enable a balanced use of the Mozambican marine space, so the ecosystems are protected, and social and economic outcomes are delivered ethically.

First Dive Master Internships a Success
Last month, the first three dive master internships started at BCSS. The 12-week internships are packed with in-depth knowledge regarding best diving practices, safety measures and dive theory. Taught by our Diving Manager Mauro Jije, the following PADI courses have been successfully completed by all interns: Open Water, Advanced, Emergency First Responder and Rescue. The following weeks they will focus on what it takes to become a professional diver and learn everything from guiding dives and assisting courses to recognizing decompression sickness and assisting the research team on exploratory expeditions. Interested in becoming a dive master yourself? See the video below and click here to find more information and apply!

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Permaculture Update
Last month, the BCSS permaculture team harvested lots of hibiscus and started plating for winter; types of salad, tomatoes, spinach and kale have been planted in the BCSS gardens. The main focus in May was to prepare the gardens for the winter season. As the sandy soils of the island were not fertile enough to sustain a whole season of “heave feeders” (plants that need lots of nutrients), we used a deep digging method to remove the poor soils and layered it with organic matter. We filled the soils with growing medium consisting of our in-house bokashi compost, along with cow manure and fertile soil.

COVID-19 Restrictions in Mozambique:
 an Update

Mozambique still has numerous of restrictions in place to limit the spread the COVID-19. On the 27th of May, President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique presented the revised rules and restrictions. The restrictions for e.g. schools, events and restaurants have loosened a little, which allows for a bit of a ‘boost’ for the local economy. Visas are permitted through Mozambican embassies worldwide, and a visa on arrival can be obtained when flying in and at the border. To enter Mozambique, you need a negative PCR test that has been taken no more than 72 hours before arrival.

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