Our 2020 highlights: Ocean Observatory, Marine Science Program and more

This year has been like no other, with ups and downs none of us could have foreseen. Despite the tight grip of COVID-19 on the world and Mozambique border closures, we continued collecting data, conducting research and working on projects to the best of our ability. Please enjoy our 2020 highlights, and thank you for your continued support of all things BCSS. We look forward to a dynamic and peaceful 2021.

Internships and volunteering

In October we launched the Marine Science Programs, offering individuals the opportunity to join us as volunteers or interns and to enjoy working and training side-by-side with leading scientists during research expeditions in the field. After over fifty applications, the first two volunteers have arrived on Benguerra and are currently assisting our scientists.

SASOL relinquishes licence for oil & gas exploration
In 2019, BCSS contributed data and local knowledge on the BANP’s ecosystems to SASOLs public Environmental Impact Assessment, advocating for conservation and urging the government not to allow oil and gas exploration in an area North of the BANP (block 16 and 19). In July 2020, SASOL relinquished its exploration license as a direct effect of the contributions made from the public consultations.

Wildlife sightings
In September, we welcomed a significant amount of humpback whales – especially noticeable after a quieter 2019. From our boat, Expedition 001, we spotted  103 humpbacks and also high numbers of various shark species, including bull and tiger sharks – indicating healthy reefs. During dives, we noticed a high level of biodiversity – obvious by the many schools of fish, crustaceans and different types of coral seen on the same reef.

Contributions to studies
This year, BCSS and Dr. Mario Lebrato contributed to three papers. Two focused on the potential of artificial upwelling to reverse coral bleaching (please see the papers here and here). We also worked together with Kiel University and GEOMAR in Germany, studying seawater compositions for nine years – the findings challenge the elemental stability of the ocean. The groundbreaking research has been published by PNAS in August.

Permaculture projects
Under the leadership of Chloe Wallace, our Permaculture and Landscaping Manager, a food forest has been added to the station. The large garden grows a variety of vegetables and fruit, from pineapples and basil to sweet potatoes and tomatoes. The garden, run by our fantastic grounds team, is an effort to be self-sufficient, and keep the the CO2-footprint of the station as low as possible.

A new cooporation with Lúrio University
In August, a Memorandum of Understanding between BCSS and the Faculty of Natural Science of the Lúrio University  was signed, with the goal of strengthening cooperation between our institutions. This enables us to develop student exchange programs and allows us to apply for international research grants within Mozambique – two things that will flourish in the new year.


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