The Bazaruto Center for Scientific Studies (BCSS) has opened the first long-term African Ocean Observatory with a permanent time-series to monitor in parallel multiple ecosystems and ongoing climate change.
The Bazaruto Center for Scientific Studies (BCSS) is home to the first long-term African Ocean Observatory with parallel permanent time-series monitoring multiple ecosystems and ongoing climate change. This is a unique global initiative, as other schemes maintain normally single ecosystem time-series, research lines/transects or buoys. With more than 7 different tropical marine ecosystems located within 2km of the facility, including open ocean and pelagic waters, coral reefs, seagrass meadows, mangrove forests, sandbanks, oyster beds, mud flats, saltwater marshes, freshwater boreholes, sand dunes, island bush and vegetation, the Bazaruto Archipelago is a unique place for study.
Because the archipelago is situated on the West Indian Ocean continental shelf, deep waters are found within 2-3km from the BCSS facility, with a deep canyon running past the south of Benguerra Island down to Magaruque Island. Deep water connecting directly to the islands allows for nutrient rich waters, bringing visitors close to open ocean creatures and game fish including black, blue and striped marlin, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, bull and 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 less than 250 individuals remaining. Sea turtles can also be found nesting on the archipelago beaches. Furthermore, the plentiful Bazaruto Archipelago waters sustain healthy and pristine coral reefs that in turn maintain untouched fish populations within the National Park.
At BCSS five underwater observatories have been strategically positioned, each comprising 50kg cement frames with top-mounted metal structures to support cameras and batteries. Each unit can film 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 such as sharks or marlins. In each underwater observatory we collect bottled samples to provide further data for analysis. BCSS also conducts plankton tows to build an ongoing zooplankton database, with plans to match this information with data on the wider environment and larger marine animals.
BCSS is one of the few only long-term Ocean Observatory in the world that is currently running a permanent time-series to monitor in parallel multiple ecosystems and offering an open-data policy for the following environmental variables: 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. BCSS has an open collaboration policy with its partners and cooperators looking to jointly study large ocean creatures. BCSS is now beginning to work on bull and tiger shark tagging for telemetry and acoustic detection. The station is also assessing satellite tagging projects with black marlin to better understand migrations across oceans.