Love The Oceans’ end goal in Mozambique is to establish a Marine Protected Area in the Inhambane Province, using a bottom-up, community-led approach through research, education and diving.
Love the Oceans is a non-profit marine conservation organisation working in Guinjata Bay, Mozambique since 2014. Guinjata Bay, whilst home to a huge host of marine life, has never been studied in depth for any prolonged amount of time. Love The Oceans hopes to protect and study the diverse marine life found here, including many species of sharks, rays and the famous humpback whales. We use research, education and diving to drive action towards a more sustainable future. Our ultimate goal is to establish a Marine Protected Area for the Inhambane Province in Mozambique, achieving higher biodiversity whilst protecting endangered species.
Love The Oceans was founded by marine biologist Francesca Trotman. Francesca studied Marine Biology at University of Southampton. In 2013, during her second year at university, Francesca took an internship in Mozambique and witnessed her first shark killing in Guinjata Bay. Francesca decided she wanted to investigate the sustainability of the shark finning industry in Mozambique, and returned to university to find a supervisor and research assistants to help her. In 2014 Francesca returned for 4 months with 3 research assistants to collect data on the artisanal fisheries for her Masters’ dissertation, focussing specifically on the elasmobranch (shark and ray) fisheries.
After her return to England, during the analysis of the data for her Masters’ dissertation, Francesca realised her results were supporting the hypothesis that the shark finning industry is highly unsustainable. However, she did not have enough data to make the results statistically significant, making it impossible to publish scientific papers and lobby for legislation change. Francesca therefore founded Love The Oceans whilst completing her Masters to continue her elasmobranch research.
Soon after founding the organisation, after researching successful conservation strategies and how to create long-lasting change, Francesca realised Love The Oceans needed a multipronged approach and the mission of the organisation was revised to the broader aim of establishing a Marine Protected Area in Guinjata Bay and the surrounding region. As a result, the research of the organisation was expanded to encompass coral reef surveys, megafauna research and ocean trash.
Francesca decided to include the vision of complete self-sustainability for the community in the creation of Love The Oceans, making a successful conservation outcome eventually independent of Love The Oceans’ presence in the area. To achieve this, education would have to be improved, both in general, but also specifically relating to Marine Resource Management, ecotourism and Sea Safety to spark passion for marine life in the next generation. This is why Educational and Community Outreach has been an integral part of Love The Oceans’ work from the start.
The vision of Love The Oceans is to create a successful conservation strategy that can be replicated up and down the coastline of Mozambique and other developing nations to alleviate poverty and empower local communities to protect their oceans.
Since the founding in 2014, Love The Oceans has expanded hugely and now incorporates many different aspects of marine research. We have continued the initial elasmobranch fisheries research which is still a major data set of ours to this day.
As well as our fisheries research, we conduct biodiversity and coral reef health assessments to assess the reef health of the area, looking at coral coverage, species abundance and diversity. We use an adapted methodology of Reef Life Survey allowing comparison with data sets from other similar locations.
Since 2016 we have been collecting sightings data on the flagship marine species in our area, including humpback whales, whale sharks and manta rays. Humpback whales are seasonal (June – November), while whale sharks and manta rays are sighted in Guinjata Bay year-round. We collect frequency data on humpback whales to assess whether humpback whale sightings are frequent enough throughout the migration season to support sustainable ecotourism. An expansion of whale watching and the associated increased revenue would provide a financial incentive for the government to offer protection for the area. We are also studying the vocalisations of humpback whales to identify different groups, subpopulations and study why certain surface behaviours are exhibited at certain times. Sightings data on whale sharks and manta rays is collected to study population size, habitat use and regional migration patterns. This will aid our proposal for the protected area as it will allow another angle for habitat protection to allow these flagship marine species to thrive and encourage ecotourism, in turn generating revenue.
Ocean trash was officially added to Love The Oceans’ research in 2017: Love The Oceans has been doing beach cleans for years, removing hundreds of kilograms of trash off our remote beaches and in 2017 we decided to start logging the beach cleans to study why we have so much trash, which types of trash are the most common, and what we can do to reduce it. We have found that nearly 100% of the collected trash is plastic, with a huge portion of that single-use. We hope to reduce plastic consumption in our area and encourage people to reuse and refuse.
Love The Oceans has been passionate about including the community in our conservation strategy from the start. We initially started working with Guinjata School in 2015, delivering the first season of Marine Resource Management lessons, and expanded to working with Paindane School in 2016. As well as our Educational Outreach, Love The Oceans has successfully raised funds to maintain and improve existing classrooms, and build one new classroom at each of the schools every year. We expanded our Community Outreach further in 2016, adding Sea Safety and free swimming lessons: Guinjata Bay has a strong rip-current and has over the years experienced a high number of drownings. Love The Oceans hopes to prevent future drownings by improving in-water safety. Swimming lessons are crucial, not just to improve water safety, but also to encourage the children to get in the water and hopefully spark their passion for the Ocean. Adding swimming to their skillset also creates a new range of future job opportunities in ecotourism. The two newest additions to Love The Oceans’ Community Outreach are our Ocean Conservation Champion Program and Sustainable Livelihoods Program, pilots for both programs will be launched in 2019.
Volunteering is an integral part of Love The Oceans’ work. Having started with 26 volunteers in 2015, we have now hosted well over 100 volunteers from countries around the world to help us with our research and outreach work. To date we have hosted volunteers from: India, America, UK, Australia, Netherlands, France, Canada, Poland, Luxemburg, South Africa, Kenya, Germany, Spain, Italy, Dubai, Greece and Tanzania. Our team is as international as our volunteers, with staff members from Denmark, Mozambique, Belgium, UK and Australia. We believe diverse groups make the best teams, and we are very proud of our international team.
We are a micro, grassroots non-profit with a team of very dedicated individuals who care passionately about our mission, and work tirelessly to ensure Love The Oceans’ success. Being a micro non-profit means we value every volunteer and ensure they are treated as such. If you are volunteering with us, most of your pre-departure communications will be directly with our Founder and Managing Director Francesca Trotman. When you arrive in Mozambique, you will have the opportunity to spend time with and learn from our team of qualified marine biologists, who are all passionate about different areas of marine science, giving you the opportunity to gain the most from your experience. If you come to one of our events you will have the chance to meet some of our team members and learn more about our organisation before you join us in Mozambique.
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