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September Update: Humpback Season, Job Opportunities, Free Diving Courses, New Collaborations and Wildlife Sightings

Humpback Whale Season in Full Swing
July marks the start of humpback whale season in Mozambique, and the number of early sightings have noticeably increased this year. From July until the end of August, we have made 41 sightings – and though this might mean we have seen the same individual on multiple occasions, it remains a positive indication of the number of whales in the Bazaruto Archipelago this season. They are sighted in groups and individually, with the biggest group we have seen so far consisting of five humpback whales. We observed spectacular behaviour, from mothers and calves breaching to pectoral fin and tail slapping. We are looking forward to seeing more humpback whales over the next few months, as the season stretches until the end of October.

The Mozambique Channel, in which the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park lies, is their breeding ground; a designated place where humpback whales mate, give birth and nurse offspring. They arrive here following their annual migration route that begins in the Antarctic Ocean. The mothers and calves stay mainly inshore at a relatively shallow depth, while male pods are typically located in deeper water.

Job opportunities: BCSS is looking for a Research Manager and an Operations Manager
As our research station is continuously expanding, BCSS is currently hiring two new positions: a Fieldwork Manager and a Operations Manager. Both positions are full-time and on site at the research station on Benguerra Island, Mozambique.

For the Fieldwork Manager role, we are looking for an experienced person in marine sciences to manage & execute a variety of projects under the research station themes, as well as help with the internships/volunteering programs. For more information, please click here.

The ideal Operations Manager candidate has plenty of experience in operations so they can manage and oversee the smooth function of the station. The position combines commercial strategizing, multi-tasking abilities, data reporting & visualization, problems forecasting as well as a solid mindset to work in a remote and isolated environment. For more information, please click here.

If you think you might be suitable for one of these positions, please read the job descriptions linked above and send your CV and a cover letter to mario.lebrato@bcssmz.org 

Free Diving Courses at the BCSS Research Station
BCSS offers visitors the opportunity to learn how to free dive through Pure Apnea courses. Our in-house free dive instructor, Jason Morkel, has been teaching in South Africa and Mozambique for several years now and his passion for the sport is contagious. As the Bazaruto Archipelago offers plenty of colourful free diving locations, the skills gained after completing the Pure Apnea level 1 free diving course can be applied immediately in the park. Three Marine Science Interns participated in the Pure Apnea training last week, which took place in the BCSS test tank and in the oceans’ shallow waters. They loved the course and all passed with flying colours.

Marine Debris Collection Databases to be used by an EU Foundation
The data collected under theme 4: Land & Outreach, will be used by a website and application from an EU foundation. The aim of the foundation is to develop a database of plastic debris, divided over different data types. The foundation is attempting to combine data from all over the world which can be easily accessed. With great potential in the initiative, BCSS is happy to contribute by sharing the Theme 4 datawith the organisation, to help calibrate the website and application as it is gearing up for launch.

Waste Management Update
As we have an average of four volunteers and interns on site, the marine debris collections have been very efficient and fun. In the last month, we have visited several ecosystem locations including the seagrass meadows, mangroves and beach to monitor how different environments affect the marine debris that washes up. Certain types of debris appear to be more prevalent in different habitats. For example, rubber (e.g. flip flops) are found in much higher quantities at the beach compared to seagrass or mangrove locations, whereas more clothing is found in mangrove and seagrass habitats. An interesting find at a seagrass site was seeing brittle stars, cowries and crabs inside of cans and bottles (pictured below). It seems they might use the cans and bottles as nooks for shelter and breeding. After a clean-up, the volunteers, BCSS staff and local community sort the debris at the BCSS waste facility. The waste gets weighed, separated and analyzed. From February until August, a total of 1164 kgs of marine debris has been collected.

August Wildlife Highlights
As humpback whale season has started in the Mozambican waters, the BCSS team has sighted numerous individuals in the past month. Besides the whales, different types of sharks were also spotted, among other megafauna.

  • August 1: Multiple humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), on the surface offshore the Bazaruto Archipelago.
  • August 5: A bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) in the mid-water column northeast off Benguerra Island.
  • August 7: Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) on the surface offshore the Bazaruto Archipelago, and two grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) roaming the reefs northeast off Benguerra Island. One of the grey reef sharks is pictured below. 
  • August 8: A group of four bottlenose dolphins (Himantura jenkinsii) were spotted hunting, as well as a dugong (Dugong dugon) and loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) on the surface around St Carolina Island. 
  • August 9: A group of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) on the surface, three bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) on the seabed and in the mid-water column and two reef manta rays (Mobula alfredi)cleaning on the reef, northeast off Bazaruto Island. 
  • August 13: A group of humpback dolphins (Sousa teuszii) on the surface, north off Benguerra Island. 
  • August 21: Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) on the surface and a large pod of spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) hunting, both spotted offshore the Bazaruto Archipelago.
  • August 25: Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) surfacing and a hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) shark on the surface too, were sighted offshore the Bazazaruto Archipelago.

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