OCEAN

OBSERVATORY

INTRODUCTION

The Bazaruto Archipelago: a biodiversity hotspot

The Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region stretches from the Horn of Africa (Somalia) to the southern tip of South Africa. Over 20 marine conservation areas and national parks exist in this coastline, nine of them located within Mozambique. One of the most important, the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park (BANP) supports coral reefs, seagrass meadows, mangrove forests, sand banks, deep canyons, and narrow shelves that quickly connect with the open ocean.

The BANP is a group of five islands in the Inhambane Province, Mozambique, classified as a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in 1971. This Marine Park is a conservation priority owing to its significance for contributing to biodiversity and the important goods and services provided by the variety of marine ecosystems. The marine life that inhabits the BANP includes: humpback whales, dolphins and sharks, marlin and tuna, sailfish, wahoo, king mackerel, great trevally, groupers, rays, manta rays, reef fish and turtles.

Resources are currently under threat of exploitation by artisanal fisheries and local communities. The BANP is an example of a pristine coastal location that is quickly undergoing changes following human development that impacts local to regional ecosystems.

OBSERVATORY

The first permanent multi ecosystem time-series Ocean Observatory in Africa

Monitoring across spatiotemporal scales is key to understand the magnitude of regional pressures including climate change and human impact on marine coastal ecosystems such as the BANP.

The BCSS Ocean Observatory contributes to the ongoing data gathered by cruises such as the GEOTRACES Program, the SIBER-SCOR Indian Ocean Programme, and the GOA-ON international network (NOAA/UNESCO endorsed).

The main objectives of the Observatory are:

i) To monitor spatiotemporal variability in seawater key parameters relevant to Climate Change/Ocean Acidification
(OA) and Human Impact/Pollution concerns at a local, regional and global level.

ii) To identify the current and future marine environmental status of the BANP, and how Climate Change/OA and Human impact/pollution affect its ecosystems, with the ultimate goal to be a long-term oceanographic reference for the WIO region.

iii) To effectively and timely transfer BANP Ocean Observatory time-series outcomes to relevant local, regional/national, and international communities in a way that is used to inform management, conservation and policy decisions.

Explore the types of data BCSS collects
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and relevant literature

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develop joint research studies

METHODS

The BCSS Research Themes

The BCSS Ocean Observatory is structured around four research themes; themes 1-3 focused on marine ecosystems, and theme 4 being land-based. The data originating from the themes are obtained using state-of-the-art protocols to collect, analyze, prepare, and present.

BCSS has in-house laboratories and facilities to channel initial stages of sample preparation, which are sent to the EU/USA for analytics in partner facilities. All our sensors are calibrated on a monthly basis, while moorings are serviced quarterly by the BCSS team. Spatial data is gathered by trained observers, as well as qualified divers.

All BCSS procedures, operations, fieldwork and laboratory protocols, technical diving, data processing and curation, as well as publications and reports, are revised by a team of experts and signed off by the CSO as part of our quality-control procedure.

The BCSS Ocean Observatory is structured around four research themes; themes 1-3 focused on marine ecosystems, and theme 4 being land-based. The data originating from the themes are obtained using state-of-the-art protocols to collect, analyze, prepare, and present. BCSS has in-house laboratories and facilities to channel initial stages of sample preparation, which are sent to the EU/USA for analytics in partner facilities. All our sensors are calibrated on a monthly basis, while moorings are serviced quarterly by the BCSS team. Spatial data is gathered by trained observers, as well as qualified divers. All BCSS procedures, operations, fieldwork and laboratory protocols, technical diving, data processing and curation, as well as publications and reports, are revised by a team of experts and signed off by the CSO as part of our quality-control procedure.

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ECOSYSTEM FUNCTION AND MONITORING

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SPECIES IDENTIFICATION AND HABITAT MAPPING

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MIGRATORY FISH POPULATIONS DYNAMICS

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THE BCSS WAY

Ecosystem Monitoring and Function

In this theme, we work on detecting and predicting climate-driven changes on the biological, chemical, and physical conditions of the ocean and how these changes influence the function of various ecosystems, namely coral reefs, seagrass meadows, mangrove forests, sand banks, canyons, and the open ocean.

1. Ocean acidification/Climate Change monitoring combining fixed measurements using sensors (HOBOs for temperature and light) attached to the Observatory moorings, water samples measured using YSI multiprobes (salinity, dissolved oxygen, pHtotal), as well as bottled sampling for a variety of carbon chemistry parameters (total alkalinity – TA and dissolved inorganic carbon – DIC measured via a VINDTA instrument).

2. Seawater bottled sampling and monitoring for dissolved nutrients (nitrate, phosphate, silicate), major/minor (Mg, Cl, Ca, Sr, Na, etc), and trace/heavy metals (Pb, As, Cu, Cd, Fe, etc). Nutrients are measured using a Spectrophotometer, and the metals using ICP-OES and ICP-MS instruments.

3. Plankton samples, mostly for the zooplankton groups on the 50-300 μm size are collected during plankton tows, to then be processed in bulk for isotope analysis. Samples are also checked under the microscope to identify the main biological composition.

4.
Remote sensing is used to obtain measurements at large around the working areas, dividing the Bazaruto Archipelago in four major areas, where sea surface temperature (SST) and Chlorophyll a (Chl. a) are mapped on a daily basis.

Ecosystem Monitoring and Function

In this theme, we work on detecting and predicting climate-driven changes on the biological, chemical, and physical conditions of the ocean and how these changes influence the function of various ecosystems, namely coral reefs, seagrass meadows, mangrove forests, sand banks, canyons, and the open ocean.

1. Ocean acidification/Climate Change monitoring combining fixed measurements using sensors (HOBOs for temperature and light) attached to the Observatory moorings, water samples measured using YSI multiprobes (salinity, dissolved oxygen, pHtotal), as well as bottled sampling for a variety of carbon chemistry parameters (total alkalinity – TA and dissolved inorganic carbon – DIC measured via a VINDTA instrument).

2. Seawater bottled sampling and monitoring for dissolved nutrients (nitrate, phosphate, silicate), major/minor (Mg, Cl, Ca, Sr, Na, etc), and trace/heavy metals (Pb, As, Cu, Cd, Fe, etc). Nutrients are measured using a Spectrophotometer, and the metals using ICP-OES and ICP-MS instruments.

3. Plankton samples, mostly for the zooplankton groups on the 50-300 μm size are collected during plankton tows, to then be processed in bulk for isotope analysis. Samples are also checked under the microscope to identify the main biological composition.

4. Remote sensing is used to obtain measurements at large around the working areas, dividing the Bazaruto Archipelago in four major areas, where sea surface temperature (SST) and Chlorophyll a (Chl. a) are mapped on a daily basis.

Species Identification and Habitat Mapping

In this theme, we conduct open ocean, coastal, seabed and underwater visual surveys to study marine life hotspots and learn how organisms interact with the environment over time and space. We do also conduct seabed 2D/3D topographic surveys to develop detailed maps using multibeam sonar technology.

1. Marine life identification in time-series mode down to species level surveyed from boats, scuba diving and using underwater equipment such as deep-sea landers and towing cameras.

2. Building taxonomic databases and maintenance of an ArcGIS spatial database, including detailed habitat structure and topography mapping.

3. Coral reefs percentage cover and bleaching reports via scuba diving surveys using transects and quadrats.

4. Scientific diving to deploy and maintain landers & camera equipment as well as hydrophones, receivers and sensors down to 36 m and remote deployments down to 200 m using onboard crane.

5. 2D/3D seabed mapping is conducted using multibeam sonar technology using the software MaxSea timezero connected to a Lowrance HDS LIVE with XYZ live data interpolation on screen onboard.

Species Identification and Habitat Mapping

In this theme, we conduct open ocean, coastal, seabed and underwater visual surveys to study marine life hotspots and learn how organisms interact with the environment over time and space. We do also conduct seabed 2D/3D topographic surveys to develop detailed maps using multibeam sonar technology.

1. Marine life identification in time-series mode down to species level surveyed from boats, scuba diving and using underwater equipment such as deep-sea landers and towing cameras.

2. Building taxonomic databases and maintenance of an ArcGIS spatial database, including detailed habitat structure and topography mapping.

3. Coral reefs percentage cover and bleaching reports via scuba diving surveys using transects and quadrats.

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4. Scientific diving to deploy and maintain landers & camera equipment as well as hydrophonesreceivers and sensors down to 36 m and remote deployments down to 200 m using onboard crane.

5. 2D/3D seabed mapping is conducted using multibeam sonar technology using the software MaxSea timezero connected to a Lowrance HDS LIVE with XYZ live data interpolation on screen onboard.

Migratory Fish Populations Dynamics

The understanding of migratory patterns of marine life and their hotspots around Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and National Parks (NPs) is critical for conservation efforts. In this theme, we fish and tag pelagic animals (conventional-Hallprint, acoustic-VEMCO, satellite-LOTEK). Bio-samples taking a fin-clip and a piece of the muscle are also collected for bulk isotope and DNA extraction in time-series mode. The samples collection and tagging procedures follow strict, ethical animals handling procedures.

1. Research fishing expeditions targetting migratory species such as bull, oceanic blacktip, and tiger sharks, blue and black marlin, sailfish, wahoo, yellowfin and skipjack tuna, bonito, king mackerel, mahi-mahi, sardines and carapau and squid.

2. 
Conventional tagging using Hallprint spaghetti tags (PIMA-W and PDAT tags). Acoustic tagging using VEMCO V16 tags combined with receivers in permanent moorings. Satellite tagging using LOTEK technology and ARGOS tracking system for large-range spatial movements.

3. Fin-clip and tissue samples are recovered from tagged species as well as from local communities fisheries catches. Samples are preserved using molecular grade ethanol (DNA/genetics) or frozen at -20 ºC (isotopes).

4. In-house laboratories are used to prepare and dry samples at constant temperature e.g. 48 to 72 h at 60 ºC for a variety of samples and protocols for end users.

5. Deployment of customized moorings for special projects e.g. hydrophones and receivers to track marine animals.

 

Migratory Fish Populations Dynamics

The understanding of migratory patterns of marine life and their hotspots around Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and National Parks (NPs) is critical for conservation efforts. In this theme, we fish and tag pelagic animals (conventional-Hallprint, acoustic-VEMCO, satellite-LOTEK). Bio-samples taking a fin-clip and a piece of the muscle are also collected for bulk isotope and DNA extraction in time-series mode. The samples collection and tagging procedures follow strict, ethical animals handling procedures.

1. Research fishing expeditions targetting migratory species such as bull, oceanic blacktip, and tiger sharks, blue and black marlin, sailfish, wahoo, yellowfin and skipjack tuna, bonito, king mackerel, mahi-mahi, sardines and carapau and squid.

2. 
Conventional tagging using Hallprint spaghetti tags (PIMA-W and PDAT tags). Acoustic tagging using VEMCO V16 tags combined with receivers in permanent moorings. Satellite tagging using LOTEK technology and ARGOS tracking system for large-range spatial movements.

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3. Fin-clip and tissue samples are recovered from tagged species as well as from local communities fisheries catches. Samples are preserved using molecular grade ethanol (DNA/genetics) or frozen at -20 ºC (isotopes).

4. In-house laboratories are used to prepare and dry samples at constant temperature e.g. 48 to 72 h at 60 ºC for a variety of samples and protocols for end users.

5. Deployment of customized moorings for special projects e.g. hydrophones and receivers to track marine animals.

The BCSS Way: Marine Debris and Community

Around the world, the statistics on anthropogenic impact on the environment is ever growing. The most palpable indicator of humanity’s unsustainable colonization of the planet is our waste issue.
Now more than ever we are concerned with where our waste is going, what is happening to it, what impacts is it having on the environment, and our health, as well as, what can be done to reverse our impact and re-imagine the future. We monitor marine debris in the BANP, assess their impact, raise awareness, and work with innovators and recyclers to implement solutions.

1. Bi-weekly marine debris accumulation surveys on 3 study sites (mangrove, seagrass, and beach), as well as, standing stock surveys on opportunity.
2. Surveys conducted by trained surveyors and citizen scientists, following methods used by the NOAA Marine Debris Program, WIOMSA, Sustainable Seas Trust, and the African Marine Waste Network, to ensure our data can contribute to regional and international monitoring efforts.

3. Construct a baseline database on the evolution of waste found on the BANP, including accumulation rate, most found materials/items, and, where possible, their origins.

4. Awareness campaign materials are inspired by the data collected.

The BCSS Way: Marine Debris and Community

Around the world, the statistics on anthropogenic impact on the environment is ever growing. The most palpable indicator of humanity’s unsustainable colonization of the planet is our waste issue.
Now more than ever we are concerned with where our waste is going, what is happening to it, what impacts is it having on the environment, and our health, as well as, what can be done to reverse our impact and re-imagine the future. We monitor marine debris in the BANP, assess their impact, raise awareness, and work with innovators and recyclers to implement solutions.

1. Bi-weekly marine debris accumulation surveys on 3 study sites (mangrove, seagrass, and beach), as well as, standing stock surveys on opportunity.

2. Surveys conducted by trained surveyors and citizen scientists, following methods used by the NOAA Marine Debris Program, WIOMSA, Sustainable Seas Trust, and the African Marine Waste Network, to ensure our data can contribute to regional and international monitoring efforts.

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3. Construct a baseline database on the evolution of waste found on the BANP, including accumulation ratemost found materials/items, and, where possible, their origins.

4. Awareness campaign materials are inspired by the data collected.

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