September Update: Spectacular Humpback Behaviour, Interview with our Diving Manager Mauro and Schooling Hammerheads

New article: Spectacular Humpback Whale Behaviour Prior to Returning to their Feeding Grounds

Our newest article, written by our in-house cetacean expert, Ekaterina Kalashnikova, focuses on the incredible humpback whale behaviour the team was lucky to witness in the last month. With the migratory peak in September, and given the population nearly doubled in size within the last decade, our interns and volunteers are lucky to enjoy this spectacular abundance with sometimes over 100 seen in a single day.

“The horizon is constantly broken by breaching, fluking, pectoral fin slapping whales. We sometimes see more than 100 humpback whales in one day.” – Ekaterina Kalashnikova, Marine Scientist and Operations & Commercial Manager at BCSS

Photo identification is a non-invasive method based on natural marks through photography when peculiar features are used for individual recognition without impact on the animal. Individual photo-identification of whales allows researchers to link sightings split by years and thousands of kilometers, providing opportunity for assessment of e.g. movement patterns and sub population structure. Join these collaborative expeditions and be part of the Photo ID Program next season, assisting on-site specialists staying at BCSS. Get in touch via for more information.

“Diving Inspires Conservation”, an Interview with Diving Manager Mauro Jije

As a dive manager and marine operations manager, Mauro Jije is at the heart of every day action at the station. Whether it’s an expedition out to open ocean, diving with sharks during a course or managing remote island marine logistics; Mauro rolls up his sleeves and gets it done. His passion for the ocean and conservation is infectious, and he has inspired many guests and interns who have visited the BCSS station to pursue a career in diving and conservation. To share a bit more of his personality with the world beyond Benguerra Island, we interviewed him. 

“I think scuba diving has a major importance on marine conservation, as it helps to observe and study complex dynamics beneath the surface. Plus, it influences people to spread awareness in regards to ocean protection.”

Wildife Highlights

September was a relatively cold month for marine life, as the average seawater temperature was 22-24 ºC while usually the seawater is around 25 ºC this time of the year. The tuna schools have therefore not arrived yet, delaying most pelagic animals’ arrival subsequently. However, the team has witnessed much higher numbers of humpback whales compared to the previous two years. On some days the team even estimated they had seen more than 100 humpbacks. Another interesting observation was seeing schooling scalloped hammerheads at depths outside the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park. This might be a sign of aggregation for reproduction reasons, and was a rather spectacular sight for the team. 

  • 4 September: Three reef mantas (Manta alfredi) were at a cleaning station northeast of the San Sebastian peninsula. In the same area the team found five scalloped hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini) near the surface and an oceanic blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) mid-water.
  • 9 September: Two humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) passed by the team while they were scuba diving northeast of Benguerra Island.
  • 11 September: The team returned to dive at the same site northeast of Benguerra Island, where they came upon four grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos)roaming the ocean floor.
  • 12 September: A Jenkins’ whipray (Pateobatis jenkinsii) was spotted together with five grey reef sharks (C. amblyrhynchos) while diving northeast of Benguerra Island.
  • 13 September: Northeast of Benguerra, the team saw six endangered green turtles(Chelonia mydas).
  • 22 September: While diving different sites northeast of the San Sebastian peninsula, a grey reef shark (C. amblyrhynchos), round ribbontail ray (Taeniurops meyeni) and a black marlin (Istiompax indica) were sighted.
  • 23 September: Northeast of Bazaruto Island, while on a dive, a bull shark(Carcharhinus leucas) was seen, along with three different species of stingray: a cowtail ray (Pastinachus sephen), round ribbontail ray (T. meyeni) and a sharpnose stingray(Maculabatis gerrardi).
  • 28 September: while diving in the northeast area of Benguerra Island, the team spotted two types of sharks; one blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) and six grey reef sharks (C. amblyrhynchos).

Interns’ & Volunteers’ Contributions

Many hands make light work, and our interns last month helped enormously with the day-to-day tasks at the station. They studied different families of corals and fish and learned how to conduct reef surveys, dived in the Bazaruto Archipelago while identifying megafauna both underwater and from the boat, and were taught how to best capture cetaceans identification photos. They also helped with the beach clean ups BCSS does in collaboration with African Parks, and helped weighing and sorting the marine debris.

“Since I’m studying marine biology, everything we did during the internship was very useful and I also could use some of my ecology and zoology studies to better understand the environment I was diving in.” – Intern Matilde Cella

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