OUR RESEARCH

Love The Oceans collects fisheries data across three primary landing sites throughout Jangamo; Guinjata Bay, Paindane Bay and Coconut Bay. Our fisheries research is the first data collected in the region. Baseline data collected in 2014 indicates that the small-scale, artisanal fisheries operating across all three landing sites do not always adhere to current legal requirements regarding minimal landing size, deployment and types of fishing gear, or restrictions on which species can be caught. The baseline data indicates that the current fisheries are unsustainable and have documented that targeted elasmobranch fisheries are operating across all three landing sites with longline boats primarily targeting sharks and gillnets targeting rays.

Our field assistants collect catch and fisheries effort data for the artisanal fisheries in Guinjata, Paindane and Coconut Bay. The field assistants engage directly with local fishermen collecting data on teleost, elasmobranch, crustacean and cephalopod fisheries. For each catch, the size, species, catch size and fishing methods are recorded and photographically documented.

For landings of elasmobranchs, additional vertebrae samples are collected for the purpose of aging the individuals and estimating the growth rate. The vertebrae are sectioned using a Buehler Isomet Low Speed Saw to expose growth bands (annual or biannual) in the vertebrae. Based on the number of growth bands and the length of each individual a growth curve can be produced. This allows us to estimate the age at maturity of each species caught in the area, and hereby assess the sustainability of the elasmobranch fisheries and their impact on the health of local elasmobranch populations.

The aim of Love The Oceans’ fisheries research is to:

  • Assess the sustainability of current fishing practices, including the sustainability of different methods to determine which methods are the most sustainable
  • Set biodiversity targets and develop management measures for the envisaged Marine Protected Area
  • Identify anthropogenic threats that need to be mitigated
  • Document the need for new fisheries legislation, implementing species-specific landing guidelines
  • Lobby for implementation and enforcement of CITES listings in Mozambique to ban shark fin export

Love The Oceans conducts biodiversity and coral reef health assessments on the coral reefs in Jangamo. Based on its geographical location and the relatively limited anthropogenic impact, Guinjata Bay is expected to host healthy coral reefs with a high biodiversity and biomass of reef associated species. Love The Oceans’ biodiversity and coral reef health assessments are the first ever conducted in the area, and the collected data serves as baseline data enabling the development of biodiversity targets for the envisaged Marine Protected area.

The biodiversity and coral reef health assessments are conducted using internationally recognised Reef Life Survey methodology. This allows comparison with data sets from other similar locations, enabling Love The Oceans to interpret the biological significance of the assessments – specifically whether current fishing practices are negatively impacting coral reef health and biodiversity.

Baseline data collected since 2016 indicates that coral reef health and biodiversity is much lower than in comparable locations around the world. This indicates that the current fishing practices and other anthropogenic pressures are negatively impacting the reefs, which highlights the need for implementation of conservation and management measures.

The aim of Love The Oceans’ coral reef research is to:

  • Assess the health of local coral reefs, including coral coverage and diversity
  • Assess the health of reef associated species, including biodiversity, biomass and trophic levels
  • Assess the impact of current fishing practices on coral reef health and biodiversity of reef associated species
  • Document the need for protection of local coral reefs
  • Set biodiversity targets and develop management measures for the envisaged Marine Protected Area

A new research area that Love The Oceans plans to expand into in conjunction with the establishment of the Marine Protected Area is the construction of artificial reef structures to speed up the restoration process and increase biodiversity by adding new substrate for expansion of the existing coral reef systems.

Humpback Whales

Love The Oceans launched the first pilot study of its kind in the region on humpback whale surface behaviour and vocalisations in 2016. In 2017 the methodology was fully implemented and the first season of data collected.

As part of their program Love The Oceans’ field assistants record humpback whale sightings, surface behaviour, environmental conditions and vocalisations. The vocalisations are recorded using a non-stationary hydrophone deployed off the research boat. Vocalisation studies can be used to identify groups and subpopulations, as well as dynamics and interactions between different groups and subpopulations. By linking surface behaviour and environmental conditions Love The Oceans hopes to understand what drives different types of surface behaviour and the purpose of each type of behaviour.

The aim of Love The Oceans’ humpback whale research is to:

  • Record frequency data, documenting the number of humpback whales migrating through Guinjata Bay during the annual migration
  • Record fluke ID photos to identify individual humpback whales using a mark-recapture method, enabling us to estimate population size, study habitat use and better understand migration patterns
  • Assess whether humpback whale sightings are frequent enough throughout the migration season to support sustainable ecotourism as an alternative livelihood for the local communities
  • Set biodiversity targets and develop management measures for the envisaged Marine Protected Area

Whale Sharks and Manta Rays

Inhambane Province is a hotspot for whale shark and manta ray activity, and one of the few places in the world where whale sharks are sightings year-round, and both species of manta ray exist sympatrically. Love The Oceans’ researchers and field assistants record whale shark and manta ray sightings and collect ID photos using photogrammetry to estimate population size, study habitat use and regional migrations. Love The Oceans’ sightings and ID photos are reported to citizen science databases ensuring international collaboration between research organisations in other megafauna hotspots around the world.

The aim of Love The Oceans’ humpback whale research is to:

  • Record ID photos to identify individual whale sharks and manta rays using a mark-recapture method, enabling us to estimate population size, study habitat use and better understand migration patterns
  • Record frequency data, to assess whether whale shark and manta ray sightings are frequent enough to support sustainable ecotourism as an alternative livelihood for the local communities
  • Set biodiversity targets and develop management measures for the envisaged Marine Protected Area
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Love The Oceans has been collecting and recording marine debris data since 2017. As part of their program Love The Oceans’ volunteers conduct weekly beach cleans, removing marine debris from our local beaches and documenting the scale of the issue. The collected marine debris is logged by category and weight using internationally recognised methodology. The three most commonly collected items are plastic fragments, plastic bottle caps and discarded fishing gear. Since May 2017 Love The Oceans has removed over 400 kg of marine debris from a 15 km stretch of coastline. While some of this debris is local (especially flip-flops and cigarette butts), the vast majority is transported to the area via ocean currents, highlighting the need for international action against marine debris and plastic pollution.

The aim of Love The Oceans’ ocean trash research is to:

  • Remove debris from the marine environment to protect our ecosystems
  • Document the scale of the issue and develop management measures to reduce marine pollution
  • Raise awareness about marine debris and plastic pollution to inspire a change in attitude in the expat and local communities, and prompt action against marine pollution

Love The Oceans started conducting turtle research in 2018 during turtle nesting season. Throughout nesting season Love The Oceans’ Turtle Patrol Team carry out nightly surveys to locate, mark and protect turtle nests on our beaches, increasing the likelihood of eggs successfully hatching. To provide nesting turtles and hatchlings with the best possible conditions, Love The Oceans’ marine biologists deliver monthly stakeholder workshops on Code of Conduct, environmental awareness and proper procedures when a nest is located. Once a nest is located the Turtle Patrol Team then post 24hr guards to get as close to 100% hatchling survival rate as possible.

The aim of Love The Oceans’ turtle research is to:

  • Record turtle nesting activity & species in Jangamo Bay, including successful and abandoned nesting attempts
  • Record hatching activity and number of hatchlings
  • Record frequency of turtles sightings to estimate population size, study habitat use and better understand migration patterns
  • Increase likelihood of successful nesting and hatching activity by implementing management measures
  • Increase awareness in the indigenous community around turtles and why they need to be protected
  • Decrease poaching in the area

Our turtle program is also an essential part of employment in the area. The 2020-21 nesting season enabled us to provide employment for 18 people (seen in the picture opposite), who support 69 family members with their income. Most of our guards used to be fishermen so this initiative has been particularly successful in transitioning people away from unsustainable fishing into conservation employment.

If you’d like to sponsor our turtle work you can donate via our fundraiser here, through paypal on our website here, or if you’re feeling generous you can sponsor a nest here. Read more about our turtle work here.

CURRENT RESEARCH

Below are some quick summary pages of studies we have done, or students have done with us, and some of our recent research. We’re always keen to collaborate so if you’d like to work with us on a paper or research project please do reach out.

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Love The Oceans Conservation charity number 1184402 
Registered in England and Wales

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