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May Update: New Paper on Gelatinous Plankton, Katya to Join the BCSS Team & Interviews with Volunteers

New Scientific Paper Published: “Gelatinous Carbon Impacts Benthic Megafaunal Communities in a Continental Margin”

Last week, Frontiers in Marine Science published a paper led by BCSS’s Chief Scientist Dr. Mario Lebrato, alongside an international team of scientists. The paper, “Gelatinous Carbon Impacts Benthic Megafaunal Communities in a Continental Margin”, outlines how sinking ocean plankton (e.g. jellyfish) transport carbon (jelly-C) to the deep ocean, impacting benthic animals (e.g. invertebrates and fish) once the carbon reaches the seabed. The research was conducted using Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs), which are small submarines, in collaboration with the oil industry off West Africa from 20 to 1300 m depth.

Read our article explaining the research in detail.

New Team Member: Katya Kalashnikova

We are excited to announce that Katya Kalashnikova has joined our team as Commercial & Operations Manager. Katya is an accomplished non-for-profit professional and biologist with over 13 years of managerial experience in East Africa. She brings to BCSS a wealth of knowledge on legal and institutional compliance, operational and administrative management, and financial controls. Besides her managerial skills, Katya has a strong conservation background possessing MSc in biology. Her professional aspiration is cetaceans research, and she has been collecting data on humpback whales’ ecology in Tanzania since 2017. She aims to establish a long-term marine mammal monitoring program with BCSS, with increased local participation as she strongly believes in community-based conservation. Katya is also a valuable member of marine organisations such asWIOMSA and IndoCet. Katya has already proven to be a great asset to the BCSS team, and we look forward to growing BCSS further with the help of her thorough knowledge and experience.

Volunteers Spotlight: Camille Roques & Sara Vital

For several months, marine research interns Camille Roques and Sara Vital have contributed greatly to the scientific work at our research station and Ocean Observatory on Benguerra Island. Their hands-on approach included the co-writing of our coral reef, benthic habitats and pelagic megafauna monitoring survey methodology. They developed protocols for the surveys focusing on coral, invertebrates, fish and megafauna identification and data collection. While diving the Bazaruto Archipelago, Camille and Sara joined the BCSS team to conduct exploratory surveys, whereafter they analyzed the data with the BCSS team towards preparation for the BCSS Ocean Observatory monthly work planned for next year. “It was a great opportunity to work alongside passionate, dynamic people and learn from their experience. The BCSS team is always open to new ideas and opinions, ensuring that their goals are met at the highest level of excellence, and love to discuss and teach ocean science-related topics, such as the importance of scientific research for the future improvement of the planet.” – Sara Vital, Volunteer  We interviewed the interns to learn about their experience participating in the Marine Science Program.  Click here to read about what they learnt while staying at BCSS, their personal highlights and what it was like to be part of the BCSS team on Benguerra Island. Their contribution to marine science data is much valued, and we like to thank both for their time at the BCSS station.

Marine Debris Collections

In collaboration with African Parks, the BCSS team collected marine debris at two of the designated sites last month. A total of 77,9 kg of waste was found at the north-eastern beach habitat location (site B) and the mangroves area in the southwest (site D). The marine debris found at the mangroves consisted mainly of marine gear like fishing lines and nets (7,4 kg). Besides marine gear, the team also found 6,3 kg of clothing; this type of waste often gets entangled in the roots of the mangrove trees. At the beach site hard plastic was dominant (12,4 kg), together with rubber (12,4 kg). 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

Last month, the team had various interesting encounters with marine life in the Bazaruto Archipelago. While diving, the team saw a large group of devil rays (Mobula mobular), estimated at 22 individuals. Resident sharks were spotted during dives too, including grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) and whitetip reef sharks (Triaenodon obesus). A highlight in May was the sighting of several oceanic blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus). Other megafauna consisted of a loggerhead turtle(Caretta caretta), various spotted eagle rays (Aetobatus narinari) (see photo) and a giant guitarfish (Rhynchobatus djiddensis).

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