An Estuary is an area in which a river meets the ocean in a marvelous mixture of marine and coastal wildlife, and ours is the pinnacle example of such. Our estuary has massive mangrove forests in and around the shore, which are the lifeline to the stunningly versatile marine wildlife we are lucky to have here. With the inclusion of these majestic mangrove forests as well as our active coral reefs, our wildlife population is unparalleled. With such comes a great responsibility. We actively need to conserve the environment and ensure that it is maintained, and we cannot do this alone. With the help of our volunteers, this becomes possible.
Over 60% of Mozambique’s 25.8 million people live in coastal areas, placing significant pressures on the marine environment and its resources, with many species vulnerable to illegal poaching and exploitation. One of our most exciting projects within community development is the introduction of our community garden. This serves as an educational model for the rest of the community and surrounding communities on how to bring about self-sustainability within a community through pig farming, fruit farming and ground water irrigation. This program aims to combat this by bridging the fragile gap between endangered marine life and the communities that live alongside them.
The estuary is the main breeding ground for tiny shrimp and small fish species, which attract larger fish species that are the main target for community fishing. Often the community fisherman catch smaller fish, which are not suitable for consumption and are eaten by the larger fish. This becomes a cycle that leaves the fishers with only small fish.
Because of this, our conservationists have recently created and launched a fish habitat device in the Estuary that local people can make and replicate for less than 3 dollars to create a new fishing area outside our protected areas. These devices can be used in areas where coral reefs are dying out to give these smaller fish a living space. Other than that, these fish habitats can be used as educational tools to teach community fisheries about how the fishing cycle works.
Our project director, Calum Murie, is
currently completing his doctoral degree
tagging and tracking sharks. This involves
capturing sharks, and if they are a bull shark,
surgically inserting an acoustic tag inside
them. This work is done by boat, and if there is space, the
volunteers who have been here the
longest get priority spots on the boat,
however we cannot guarantee everyone
will get a trip out. Safely capturing these large and powerful animals is very challenging and requires a lot of
knowledge to predict what theses sharks will
Volunteers also complete video transects on the other coral reefs that they dive. Once they return to the lodge, they analyse these videos and count the number
of fish of each family that are in each video, as well as measuring relevant environmental correlates, which allows us to gain an insight into the health of these valuable reef systems. When completed over a number of years this
allows us to track the health of the reef systems against an established baseline and then work further with our partners in the provincial government to design
regulations ensuring the future of the reef systems.
This program focuses on protecting the unique Mozambican waters education and the development of enforcement agencies. The program runs workshops with communities to encourage them to manage their local marine resources and helps them to create protected areas that we monitor scientifically for them. We also run an annual conservation and swimming training program for the coastal police, who enforce the laws protecting endangered species. Finally, one of our local conservationists, Lelia, works in local schools to educate students about marine conservation and the importance of proper waste management to decrease plastic pollution. Our community farming project also has some really exciting yields over the farming season and we are very excited to see this project progress and expand into other local communities.
Tofo Beach, Mozambique