May Update: Interesting Tiger Shark Behaviour, IUCN Report, Scientific Media Internship Launch and More

New: Scientific Media Internship
A new internship opportunity has been added to the volunteering and interning positions available at BCSS: a Scientific Media Internship. This internship focuses on broadening the intern’s knowledge of scientific media and focuses on underwater photography and video making. The intern will join the research expeditions contributing to the four research themes, learning how to work with towing camera devices, handling deep water deployments, and practical training on how deep-sea filming work at depths of e.g. 200 meters with a lander. The internship includes missions to photograph thriving marine life while working side by side with BCSS marine scientists. Learn more about our volunteering and interning programs here.

BCSS assists students with fieldwork and processing for IUCN Report
In April 2019, students Sara Forsberg (Stockholm University, Sweden), Manuela Amone and Laura Chivale (Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique) visited BCSS and used our platform to conduct research on blue carbon. The research refers to carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere, buried and accumulated as organic matter in soils, mostly via plant growth, in the scope of a Master thesis and PhD chapter. The research findings contributed to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) report “Coastal Blue Carbon Stocks in Tanzania and Mozambique: Support for Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Actions”. Read more about BCSS’ contribution to the report here.

Kisawa Sanctuary’s soft opening
We are excited to share that our sister property, Kisawa Sanctuary, opened its doors in the beginning of April for a three month ‘soft opening’ before the Grand Opening on July 1. Located at the opposite end of the island on the southern tip of Benguerra, Kisawa Sanctuary’s mission is to bring wilderness and wellbeing together, carefully and comfortably. In founding Kisawa Sanctuary and Bazaruto Center for Scientific Studies (BCSS), Nina Flohr has created a new, symbiotic business model whereby (for profit) hospitality contributes directly to (non profit) marine science and research. Inversely, the data and knowledge output of BCSS informs environmental decisions of the sanctuary, ranging from construction and design choices, seasonal marine life and ocean awareness, to guest experiences that are harmonious and meaningful. We are looking forward to working together closely with the Kisawa team. Read more about Kisawa Sanctuary here.

BCSS’s new RIB boat for scientific diving
With the official launch of the scientific dive center this month, BCSS has added another boat to its research vessels. The rigid inflatable boat (RIB) is the first of its kind for BCSS, and will be predominantly used for diving activities in the Bazaruto Archipelago, allowing closer and more flexible access to reefs and shorelines. Alongside the 28’ Gecat research boat (Expedition 001), the RIB will execute dive training, and assist in retrieving scientific data from instruments like underwater hydrophones. The RIB will also allow us to broaden our field of research, as well as training our staff to be able to conduct scientific diving practices.

Hierarchical behaviour among tiger sharks in the BANP
In September 2020, a mother and calf humpback whale became stuck on the outgoing tide, just north of Bazaruto Island. The National Park Rangers managed to push the calf out to deeper water while the mother remained beached on the sand and was unable to be saved. The rangers then anchored the carcass in shallow water. As BCSS made their way to the carcass a few days after the incident, they identified another three humpback whales in the channels of the Archipelago, plus turtles and dolphins with chunks of the decomposing whale carcass.

The carcass attracted a large variety of marine life to feast. As BCSS approached the scene, the team noticed sharks jumping to take the meat from the parts of the carcass that were exposed from the water, in an ordered fashion. After observing the pattern for some time, the team identified the sharks to be tiger sharks. The sharks were circling the carcass and waiting their turn, which was interesting as it shows the presence of a certain hierarchy. The bigger sharks were leading, while the smaller sharks were in the far back. This observation has been reported formally and has been kept within the BCSS data since. This event functions as a pointer for a new objective in research, as BCSS would like to learn more about the social behaviour of tiger sharks in the Bazaruto Archipelago.

April wildlife sightings
Despite the fact that we were largely landlocked for most of April due to COVID-19 restrictions, we were able to witness a variety of significant wildlife sightings in the Bazaruto Archipelago.

April 2: A dugong was spotted five minutes southwards of the BCSS station, about 50 meters from the shore. The BANP is known to have a dugong population of around 200 individuals, but they are rather shy so a sighting like this is very special.

April 8: Several humpback dolphins were seen close to the East shore of Benguerra Island, and bigger groups of common dolphins (+-40) were seen swimming down the West coast of the island the following week.

April 17: The dive team spotted a guitar shark in the shallow waters around sand banks just off Benguerra Island’s north point, on their way to 2-mile reef to dive. While on the dive a devil ray was spotted, as well as a turtle feeding on sponges.

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