BCSS Core Programs

The BCSS core programs are internationally renowned for their outstanding training and guidance of volunteers through each and every assignment. Good planning and patience are always a must, especially in remote locations such as the Bazaruto Archipelago, where the team at BCSS ensures all field and lab work procedures are run in line with safety guidelines.

The Bazaruto Center for Scientific Studies (BCSS) conducts a series of regular in-house assignments. Visitors can volunteer to join to learn professional oceanography, marine biology, ecology and conservation. The work and data generated from these initiatives is freely available to researchers, management bodies and the general public under Data Repository.

At times, general field work is conducted in cooperation with regional and international partners, above and beyond BCSS in-house assignments, providing further opportunities for visitors to get involved. Please Get In Touch for specific information.

The following BCSS assignments are currently available:

The Bazaruto Archipelago National Park is unique with diverse core ecosystems available for study within a 3-5km range.

BCSS has opened the first long-term African Ocean Observatory with a permanent time-series to monitor multiple ecosystems and ongoing climate change in parallel. This is a unique global initiative, as other schemes maintain only single time-series, research lines/transects or buoys. Offshore waters/plankton, coral reefs, seagrass meadows, mangrove swamps, mud flats, freshwater boreholes and other ecosystems are regularly monitored. The key environmental variables we record include Total Alkalinity (TA), Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (DIC), Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Total pH, Temperature, Salinity, Dissolved Oxygen (DO), Nutrients, Dissolved major and minor Metals, Carbonates & Mg-calcite composition, Stable Isotopes, Zooplankton and Fish Larvae. The team at BCSS facilitates an open collaboration policy with its partners and cooperators looking to jointly study large ocean creatures. BCSS is currently starting work on bull and tiger shark tagging for telemetry and acoustic detection and is also assessing satellite tagging projects with black marlin to better understand migrations across oceans.



BCSS has strategically positioned several arrays of underwater observatories around the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, each comprising of 50kg cement frames with top-mounted metal structures that support a camera and batteries.

Each unit films for 12 consecutive hours, documenting the natural marine behavior. The units also support sensors and other underwater devices, such as receivers, which partner scientists can use to track large animal movements – for example sharks or marlin. Each underwater observatory dataset collected from the sensors and cameras is complemented with bottled samples for further analysis. The facility also conducts plankton tows to populate an ongoing zooplankton database, with plans to later match this information with data on larger marine animals and the wider environment. The Underwater Observatory forms part of the Multiple Ecosystem Time-Series.



At BCSS 3D printing technology is used to generate building blocks of any shape or form to produce artificial reefs.

The units are installed in predetermined locations around the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park using boats, cranes and a team of expert divers. The purpose of this is to provide new substratum and shelter for fish and invertebrates, as well as supporting ecosystem and community services via tourism and controlled artisanal fishing. The team at BCSS monitors artificial reef evolution in terms of seawater chemistry and organism colonization to better learn how to manage artificial ecosystems and how to apply best practices for the Bazaruto Archipelago. The Artificial Reefs form part of the Multiple Ecosystem Time-Series project and are an extension of the BCSS Core Programs.

BCSS is committed to recover landscape sceneries including beaches, sand dunes and forests that have been modified in any form during construction or as a result of general habitation activities.

As part of the landscape recovery assignment the BCSS team has several plant nurseries which are used to grow native flora. These are then transplanted to target areas around the island. Invasive plant species can also be found on Benguerra Island, and the occasional removal of these plant species occurs and is directly combined with the Beach Plastic Removal & ID assignment.

BCSS is committed to a zero waste strategy in the Bazaruto Archipelago which is why we have set up a plastic and garbage removal program targeting sensitive areas such as the shoreline and the beaches.

The archipelago is home to several turtle species that come to the islands to spawn and BCSS maintains critical areas free of plastic and man-made waste to guarantee a healthy ecosystem. Garbage is collected in large bags and identified at BCSS for origin and grade classification.

All plastic items are processed using an industrial shredder on site to convert garbage to small bits and pieces that can be further used for molds and 3D printer machines. The end products from the shredder and 3D printing have several uses both for scientific work and for construction at the same time as guaranteeing the zero-waste strategy. Thereafter garbage that cannot be shredded is sent to the mainland for recycling to complete the cycle.

The privileged position of the Bazaruto Archipelago situated on the West Indian Ocean continental shelf, means deep waters are within 2-3km from the BCSS premises, with a deep canyon running through the south of Benguerra Island down to Magaruque Island.

To the north there are 5 and 6-mile reefs, with further 12 and 25-mile reefs nearby. Many deep-water zones with fringing coral reef make the area a paradise for ocean predators and deep-sea divers.

Deep water connecting directly to the islands provides nutrient-rich waters, attracting ocean creatures and game fish including black/blue/striped marlin, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, bull/tiger sharks, wahoo, king mackerel, great trevally, manta rays, whale sharks and humpback whales during their annual migration. The calmer inshore waters and seagrass meadows are home to the only West Indian Ocean dugong populations, with fewer than 250 individuals remaining.

At BCSS work on large animals is in direct cooperation with other organizations, commissioning individuals and universities. Due to the long range and deep oceanic seabed pelagic animals use, collaborations at regional and international level are conducted to correctly target migration, management and protection. Currently, BCSS has ongoing work with bull and tiger sharks as well as black marlin using acoustic and satellite tagging initiatives to track their movements. The team also uses towing cameras behind boats to monitor behavior and interaction, along with camera-mounted sensors. In combination with the Multiple Ecosystem Time-Series and the Underwater Observatory, BCSS produces data that can later be coupled with researches on these large animals.

At BCSS, the team and its visitors are committed to giving back to the local people and islanders, not only through an employment policy which prioritizes locals but also via ongoing education and training programs.

BCSS is continuously in conversation with local community leaders to learn how to best support the surrounding residents and meet their needs.

For example, annual deaths on boats in stormy weather are common, as many residents are unable to swim. BCSS and its partners work with children and adults to support safety and rescue in the water by providing basic flotation devices and instructions. Swimming assignments take place once to twice per month as part of BCSS’s ongoing community work. BCSS is currently building more programs following this giving back strategy to support existing and future needs from the local communities.