BCSS’s End of Decade Recap

December 31, 2019 | Zoe Whittall

It’s nearly the end of the decade, and with the coming of 2020, it’s time to focus on the future. But, in order to do so, it can be useful to look back on the past.

The BCSS station was founded in 2017, so we only have two years to recollect, but we have made a lot of progress in those two years. Here is the BCSS list of Top Accomplishments since our opening in 2017.

  • 1. The inauguration of BCSS meant:
    • A unique and functional eco-station on Benguerra Island, made entirely from local materials and run on solar power, with a zero-waste strategy.
    • The first WIO (Western Indian Ocean) Ocean Observatory. This works to monitor the impacts of climate change, as well as anthropogenic impacts on marine ecosystems. 
    • 1000 hours of research mapping the BANP (Bazaruto Archipelago National Park) to find out where best to conduct different types of research and how animals use the area.
View of BCSS offices taken by Tate Drucker.
  • 2. The completion of the Activities Center and Laboratories to offer professional logistic research, filming, and expedition options:
The BCSS research boat out on an expedition.
  • 3. Contributions to the Scientific Community via peer-reviewed and public articles, research proposals, and research conferences/workshops:
    • We sent two proposals to WIOMSA (Western India Ocean Marine Science Association) and the EarthWatch institute.
    • Proposals submitted to and granted by National Geographic and the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) via external collaborators (Dr. Ashlee Lillis and Mr. Calum Murie).
    • Attended conferences in London and WIOMSA.
    • Publication in Nature of director Dr. Mario Lebrato’s article on hydrothermal vents based on research conducted in Taiwan, and in Global Biogeochemical Cycles on global jellyfish carbon export. 
  • We hosted and worked with a number of visiting researchers, including: 
    • Ms. Sara Fosber (Gotteburg Univesity?) and students from University Eduardo Mondlane (UEM), who conducted fieldwork on mangrove and seagrass blue carbon dynamics.
    • Deep Voice, a group from Israel, who do research on humpback whale communication. 
    • Mr. Calum Murie’s PhD research on shark tracking and tagging, with Underwater Africa.
  • 4. Launch of Plastics and Community Project, which entails:
    • A community plastics recycling project at BCSS. 
    • Weekly beach cleanups.
    • We have developed a collaborative community project to spread awareness about pollution and the proper disposal of waste.
A sand crab next to a discarded plastic bottle on the beach in front of BCSS.
  • 5. The WIO Ocean Observatory Helps to Monitor:
    • Climate change impacts (i.e: Ocean acidification via C02), 
    • Environmental impacts (i.e: temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, nutrients, chlorophyll, etc)
    • Anthropogenic impacts (ie: heavy metal pollution and other types of pollution- dissolved major and minor elements). 
    • Spatial changes in marine life (i.e. pelagic migratory animals)
    • Plastic Sorting Facility
    • Underlying changes in the marine ecosystem (i.e. marine organisms’ DNA and Isotope time-series)
Orange Scalefin Anthias swimming around Two Mile Reef.
  • 6. Mapping the BANP 
    • Installing 3D beam technology on our research boats.
    • Developing the first 3D maps of the seabed and underwater topography at the BANP. 
    • Combining these maps with marine spatial work.
    • Understanding biological hotspots and how animals use the environment inside and outside the national park. 
  • 7. Migratory Animal Tagging
    • Tag migratory animals such as Bull Sharks, Oceanic Blacktip Sharks, and Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks to understand what protection the park offers them. 
    • Tag other pelagic animals, such as Yellowfin Tuna and Marlin, to understand migration patterns. 

Here is a list of our Top Goals for the next two years to come:

  • 1. Ground Zero on waste management and Carbon Footprint
    • Upgrade our solar power system to maximum efficiency.
    • Build an indigenous fruit tree garden.
    • Add wind power to our energy production. 
    • Put on certified permaculture courses.
Aerial view taken by drone of the BCSS station.
  • 2. Scuba Diving
    • Earn our PADI license so we can operate fully as a scuba dive center.
    • Combine research expeditions and technical diving to allow our visitors to discover marine life in the BANP.
More orange Scalefin Anthias, also called Sea Goldies, around Two Mile Reef.
  • 3. Publicize Research and Make it More Available
    • Publish more general articles and blog posts to explain technical science and new advances to the public.
    • Work collaboratively with organizations, universities, and researchers to advise change/policy.
    • Establish schools and community day visits to promote marine conservation and environmental awareness.
  • 4. Spread Awareness, especially in Mozambique:
    • Offer professional development in marine sciences to students, especially in Mozambique, via a new research internship.
    • Expand to more multi-disciplinary sciences with Mozambican organizations.
Aerial view of the BCSS boat.
  • 5. The WIO Ocean Observatory will Invest in New Gear during 2020
    • Cranes
    • NISKIN bottles
    • Environmental sensors
    • Satellite tags
  • 6. BCSS Research Mesocosm/Open-Air tanks for Research and Outreach:  
    • Build the mesocosm, an open-air running seawater system holding live coral, seagrass and fish.
    • Create new experiments for greater understanding of marine processes.
    • Work with schools, outreach, and displays for the public.
  • 7. BCSS Paid Research Internships:
    • Offer to two Mozambican nationals and one international per quarter. 
    • Interns will join the BCSS team and get training in marine sciences leadership, research technical skills, communication and outreach.

BCSS has been running smoothly for the past two years, and with the fresh start of a new decade coming ahead with 2020, we look forward to carrying that momentum into the future.