Wildlife Highlights: Hammerheads, Manta Rays and Humpback Dolphins

With a harlequin snake eel sighting leaving the team in sheer excitement, the last few months were dotted with incredible wildlife encounters. Divers were greeted by inquisitive humpback whales cruising through the archipelago, while underwater sharks and ray species hovered over colourful coral reefs. While out at sea, the team recorded every wildlife sighting – both underwater and from the boat. Highlights were the many hammerhead sharks, a leatherback turtle and endangered humpback dolphins. Watch the video below or scroll for an overview. 

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Majority of sighted megafauna have IUCN's 'Vunerable' status

As the BCSS field station is located in the heart of a hotspot for elasmobranchs (shark and ray species), the team encounters various species of elasmobranch regularly. Over September and October, the team recorded 12 shark and ray species, 4 cetacean species, 4 reptile species and a dugong. Almost half (47,6%) of these species are listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the IUCN, and almost one-fifth of the total species has been listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ (19,1%).

Most of the pelagic species were seen south off the Bazaruto Archipelago, near or at dive sites Area 51, the Rollercoaster and Marlin Pinnacles.

The coming months, we are expecting more manta ray (Mobula alfredi) sightings, as well as an increase in pelagic fish species (trevallies, king mackerel, billfish) as we are shifting into summer season. More pelagic-resident shark species, such as bull sharks and spinner sharks, are also expected to be present in higher numbers over the coming months.

Rare sighting: harlequin snake eel

A harlequin snake eel (Myrichthys colubrinus) was sighted in the Bazaruto Archipelago (pictured above). Because of the animal’s likeliness to a banded sea krait (Laticauda colubrina) it is difficult to tell the species apart, though the team was able to identify the animal with ease, as there are some subtle differences.

Cover photo by Orlando Miranda & Salvador Colvee.

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