Press Releases

A Heaven for Underwater Filmmakers & Drone Projects

April 29, 2018

The BCSS image team has been surveying the Bazaruto Archipelago to find the best filming spots for filmakers and cinema. Imagine being in one of the most virgin coastlines of the world where very few people have placed even a foot on the sand of its coastline. This is the Bazaruto Archipelago remote areas and small islands, where turtles nest, sharks roam, and not even local islanders venture into the terrain. The combination of sand dunes and low forest ecosystems makes a unique view for a drone flight or a helicopter shooting. The marine park offers a unique scenery in the whole of Africa, with tens of kilometers of sand banks that become tiny islands on the high tide with green-blue waters that are nowhere else seen. The very few existing aerial videos in the area show a unique contrast of colors and textures that are highly attractive for TV projects, magazines and cinema producers alike. Vegetation tries to touch the ocean but a narrow fringed beach with some scattered rocks prevents the connection. White beaches are dotted with shells and the occasional turtles that nest there as well as the graciously moving crabs that make holes and pockets in the sand. Under the surface waters of the ocean we find some of the healthiest coral reefs in the world teeming with such an amount of life only comparable to a rain forest. A little further into the pelagic waters packs of predators are patiently waiting for their prey to arrive, namely sharks, marlin, wahoo, and tuna. Even humpback whales enjoy Bazaruto and they stop nearby Benguerra Island with their calves on their annual migration. For those with patience, encounters with whale sharks and manta rays are also possible. There are many untouched places in the world, but one thing is for sure, the Bazaruto Archipelago is one of the closest one to be a heaven.

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An Expert View on Bazaruto Archipelago Potential

April 29, 2018

The overwhelming natural wonders of Bazaruto waters cannot be matched anywhere in the world. BCSS is a dream come true through love & respect and we are here to guarantee its core mission & values. A noise on the roof of my room wakes me up – normally this would be a neighbor waking up early back in town in Europe, but there are no neighbors here. I listen carefully and it is some creature of the bush – I open the door and a 1 meter lizard-like creature falls from above and walks calmly on the wooden deck – of course, we are in Mozambique, this is true nature. Dr. Mario Lebrato – Director/Chief Scientist at BCSS (Bazaruto Center for Scientific Studies) First days are always full of surprises but Dr. Lebrato is not short of experience – he has worked in some of the most extreme and isolated areas in the world, however he feels captivated by the Bazaruto Archipelago and its deep African roots and simply overwhelming nature and landscape. Dr. Lebrato was born in mainland Spain in an isolated community in the day to day European culture of urban life, but he quickly realized that his place was with nature and invested in our ocean\'s future. Here in the Bazaruto Archipelago things are very simple but people are happy - there are few places in the world that could make a researcher like Dr. Lebrato feel more fulfilled than Benguerra Island. During September 2017, the BCSS team surveyed all Bazaruto ecosystems and came to the conclusion that the uniqueness of this place needed a unique approach and initiative to make this a word-class institution. Dr. Lebrato\'s new Ocean Observatory for the Bazaruto Archipelago is a unique array for observing the ocean seafloor, measure ecosystems pulse, film marine life, and study the pelagic communities including plankton, sharks and predators. All this has been done separately around the world, but never all in one place. We are extremely thankful to our founder Ms. Nina Flohr for being so open to new ideas and concepts on marine sciences. With her leadership and inspiration, BCSS is going to go very far, touching many and inspiring many others. Thank you Africa once again.

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Bazaruto Exploration & Mapping

April 29, 2018

The BCSS team has spent over 1000 hours non-stop mapping & monitoring the BANP area to have an initial idea of where to conduct their major research programs. When new research programs start it is fundamental to know where they should be conducted, under which conditions and what are the main aspects that could make them fail. To this end, exploration & mapping are mandatory or simply spending time in the ocean to feel the pulse of the area, understand tidal dynamics, follow animal movements or simply get familiar with the place. Between September 2017 and April 2018 the BCSS team snorkelled, dive, patrolled, navigated, and surveyed with drones most of the Bazaruto Archipelago to map where BCSS programs will take place. Namely, the team has been searching adequate locations to install the renowned Ocean Observatory, which consists of 50 kg weight structures with cameras and chemistry sensors that will take the pulse of the ocean every hour. In this way, BCSS and the scientific community will be able to understand processes that are as critical as climate change dynamics, animal’s migrations, coral reef growth as well as film marine life with HD cameras. During April 2018 a huge amount of time was devoted to follow large animals such as bull sharks for a tagging and migration project, but at the same time the team deployed underwater cameras to monitor the seabed. The BANP pelagic waters are pretty quiet from January to April but from April onwards they start teeming with bait balls and predators.

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BCSS Ocean Observatory – The Pulse of the Ocean

April 29, 2018

The BCSS team is working on a novel concept on marine sciences & oceanography. We are combining traditional seafloor ocean observatories with novel techniques to monitor also the pelagic water for predators and much more. Very exciting times ahead. These are extremely good times to get involved in marine sciences – modern technology allows pushing the boundaries and creativity far beyond our imagination a few years back. You blink an eye and you miss the action. But this will not happen at BCSS, we are up for the challenge and we are absolutely ready. BCSS is deploying an array of a minimum of 6 underwater 50 kg units that will monitor and survey the seafloor around the Bazaruto Archipelago waters long-term with cameras, sensors, receivers to establish the first and only permanent African time-series in the ocean. We are joining the elite club in oceanography with only a few stations and organizations in the world that can sustain permanent oceanic time-series. Marine research in Africa is very biased to large marine animals because they are more visible and attractive, but nobody has been taking care of the small stuff. The oceans pulse is measured via its chemistry, its composition, its plankton and its physics. All this in turn then affects large animals and the whole trophic web, so here we are to bring it all together as an institution. [observatory_diagram] At BCSS we are bringing new technology to also observe the pelagic waters in ways never seen before using small towing cameras that capture the most extreme action, including natural attacks form sharks, tuna, wahoos or marlin. It is the whole trophic web and ecosystem that we are studying from the tiniest fraction which is the chemistry and the atoms to the largest, which are the big predators. Exciting times to join BCSS and work with Dr. Mario Lebrato and his team in the BCSS Ocean Observatory.

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Bull Shark Hotspots Mapping & Acoustic Tagging

April 29, 2018

Tagging large marine megafauna such as sharks & marlin is a powerful way to learn more about migration patterns, or local & regional movements to then apply adequate management measures in e.g. National Parks. The Bazaruto Archipelago National Park (BANP) is home to one of the largest hotspots of sharks in the world, especially of bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas), locally known as “Zambezi” or “Zambi”. This species, which is a very aggressive animal is responsible for numerous human attacks every year. They come to breed in the Bazaruto Archipelago very close to inshore waters taking advantage of the warm water temperatures during the summer and spring months. They also follow the bait and tuna schools that start arriving in great numbers around April to feed on them. Bull sharks are typically around 100 to 150 kg but in the Bazaruto Archipelago area they easily reach 200 to 300 kg. This makes BANP one of the few areas in the world with localized breeding bull shark populations easily reachable for scientific study. Very few information exists in Mozambique concerning sharks in general and in particular bull sharks. Despite the numerous attacks on people during the years it is unknown their movements, ranges, hotspots and behavioral patterns. To this end, Ph.D candidate Calum Murie joined BCSS Ocean Observatory during April 2018 to deploy several acoustic tags on +200 kg bull sharks between 2-mile and 5-mile reef. Working with Dr. Mario Lebrato and Sean Lange they were able to get 6 bull sharks from 200 to 300 kg, but only managed tagging 2 individuals. The rest of the fish either broke the gear or cut the metal wire used to bring them to the boat. The reality of bull sharks in BANP is that they are among the biggest in the world thus they grow to overwhelming sizes that are difficult to handle. BCSS mapped all shark hotspots from 2-mile reef to Lighthouse Reef to further understand where they stay. The conclusion was that bull sharks are really active under tuna shoals and they go in schools themselves, but then there are isolated very large individuals, always shallower than 30 to 40 m. Deeper than this the team did not find any bull sharks.

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BCSS Inauguration Ceremony

December 14, 2017

BCSS opened doors with a ceremony including the Inhambane governor, founders, authorities, staff and over 60 guests. The BCSS inauguration ceremony was a success with several speeches being pronounced by authorities, founders and management on a day that everybody will remember. Local islanders played music & danced, the Inhambane governor and authorities as well as local leaders blessed the ceremony with their presence and open discussion. The ceremony was closed with a buffet lunch for all guests as well as a speech and photo presentation by BCSS Director to present to authorities all the technical details of the project. The governor got very interested into the possibilities that BCSS brings both for the area and for Mozambique as a whole in terms of research, conservation and opportunities. The national press and TV joined the event broadcasting nation-wide thenafter.

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