Our Research

Love the Oceans volunteers form our research teams, collecting a variety of different but equally important data sets. The data is then processed by Love The Oceans’ team themselves, used by students in their dissertations, or shared with other research institutes working towards the same end.

Coral Reef Surveys

We believe that due to the high biodiversity present, the reefs in Guinjata Bay offer an exciting opportunity for the local community to generate sustainable sources of revenue from the marine environment through various ecotourism based initiatives. To provide evidence for this, the first data set consists of coral reef health assessments of the local dive sites. The volunteers collect this data whilst diving and snorkelling on program. We use Reef Life Survey methodology so our data can be compared to other reef systems around the world. Through non-destructive visual censuses, volunteers quantify fish species abundance and diversity, allowing us to assess the health of the reefs. These assessments will be used to lobby for a marine protected area, which if implemented would enhance ecotourism opportunities for the region. Volunteers also collect data on whale shark sightings using photogrammetry, and humpback whale sightings, pod dynamics and surface behaviour.

LTO is working for a bottom up approach to establish a marine protected area in which the local community are the stewards. The implementation of a marine protected area, and the potential to introduce artificial reefs to further increase biodiversity, presents an opportunity for revenue generation through ecotourism. This would be a key driver in efforts to shifting local behaviour away from unsustainable fisheries practices and towards marine conservation as a source of income. Providing local fisherman with further education and skills in sustainable fishing practices and the impacts of unsustainable fishing will help them to protect their local marine biodiversity assets for future generations.


Baseline data collected in 2014, indicates that the small scale, artisanal fisheries operating out of local bays do not always adhere to current legal requirements in both species and catch size. Thus in conjunction with the biodiversity assessments, the volunteers monitor these fisheries during their program, the information collected making up the second data set. Volunteers engage with the local fishermen to record catches of fish, crustaceans, cephalopods and elasmobranchs. Measurements of each catch are recorded and photographs taken to allow for later species identification. Before 2014, no data on these fisheries existed. By collating this data, Love the Oceans hopes to properly assess the sustainability of the current fisheries and eventually determine a minimum landing size for individual species of fish, crustaceans and cephalopods.

For elasmobranch catches, vertebrae is taken and later sectioned using an Buehler Isomet Low Speed Saw – some very advanced equipment recently donated to Love The Oceans. Using the growth rings, and the von Bertalanffy growth equation, a growth curve can be produced enabling the age at maturity of each shark species in the area to be determined and therefore if each individual shark caught is mature. This data will assess if current fishing methods are detrimental to the local elasmobranch population. This information will form the basis for a proposal for a more sustainable elasmobranch fishing method to be implemented. In order to ensure a stable elasmobranch population we envision using the proposal to lobbying for new legislation regarding implementation of species specific landing guidelines and a ban on shark fin exports.

As well as this, by taking small samples of tissue from fished elsamobranchs, we can calculate how much mercury the local community is consuming from these catches. From this, we can conclude if the consumption of the elasmobranchs is actually detrimental to the community’s health. We’re hoping to secure some useful, but hard to come by, chemicals, by the 2017 programs enabling us to process all the samples on site.

Humpback Whales

We did a pilot study in 2016 on the humpback whales in Guinjata Bay and in 2017 rolled out our methodology for collecting data on visual behavioural cues, associated surface behaviour, as well as frequency data. With this data we’re hoping to work out why the humpbacks make certain sounds, as well as prove that the frequency of sightings is enough to make this a viable ecotourism driver which could provide a significant amount of income from a renewable resource for the local community.

Current research:

‘Analysis of the fished shark populations in the Guinjata Bay Artisanal Fisheries of Mozambique’

‘Patterns of diversity and the trophic structure of coastal reef communities off the southern coast of Mozambique’

‘The characterisation of the relationships between surface behaviour and vocalisation of humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, and physical oceanographic parameters in Southern Mozambique’

‘A study of pod dynamics and the East African migration of Humpback Whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, using photo identification and vocalisation in Guinjata bay and the surrounding area.’

Below are summary pages of studies we have done, or students have done with us, of some of our recent research.