For the month of April 2014, National Geographic Pristine Seas expedition leader Paul Rose will lead a group of key scientists and filmmakers, together with National Geographic Emerging Explorer Andrea Marshall and the Marine Megafauna Foundation, to explore, survey, and record what they expect to be some of the healthiest reefs in East Africa, home to ocean giants like manta rays, dugongs, and more.
A baitball nearly blocks out the sun to a diver below. (Photo by Enric Sala)
Phew! We are in luck: Tropical Cyclone Helen which is one of the most powerful tropical cyclones ever recorded in this area and was headed our way has dissipated, leaving us relieved but usefully reminded that this part of the Indian Ocean demands respect.
And now we can enjoy that lovely moment when months of planning, organization, commitment and anticipation all come together: We’re at the busy dock in Inhambane, Mozambique surrounded by local fishing boats, passenger ferries of all sizes and incredibly friendly people including graceful women carrying market supplies on their heads and a great team of young boys who are just bursting to join in.
As all of the very best expeditions are, Pristine Seas: Mozambique is going to be a challenge and we are up for it! Our world class science and film team have come from around the world to join our Mozambican hosts to focus on this under-explored part of southeast Africa.
Our plan is to start work here in the sub-tropical Inhambane region and explore the fabulous nutrient rich waters that support large charismatic manta rays, whale sharks, bull sharks and the life giving kelp beds. Our second phase will be the passage north to Bazaruto and en-route we’ll dive shark feeding areas, make the first ever dives on remote reefs and sea mounts to uncover the mysteries of the important transition zone into the fully tropical corals of the beautiful Bazaruto Archipelago that is home to the amazing and nearly extinct dugongs – the fabled mermaids of the sea.
Our ocean transect will be paralleled by a coastal terrestrial science team who will explore the coastal communities and their relationship with the sea, the important mangrove swamps, estuary life, intertidal regions, turtle nesting sites, globally unique sand dunes and biodiversity hotspots of this fabulous energetic coastline.
As team member Andrea Marshall (a National Geographic Emerging Explorer) put it, ”By focusing our efforts on the protection of threatened marine megafauna and their critical habitats we can simultaneously protect the associated biodiversity within their range.”
To achieve both ocean exploration and remote coastal studies at the same time is a real challenge and so we have two expedition catamarans – the 82’ Ocean Adventurer and the 47’ Leopard. These are perfect for us as they are big, fast, and can operate in all conditions including the shallow waters that we will have to navigate as we make our way up the coast.
Five hundred years ago the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama pulled into Inhambane after a difficult passage around the southern tip of Africa. He fell in love with this region and called it Terra de Boa Gentle: Land of the Good People. We are anchored in the same bay and share the same feelings for the people as we leave for the great unknown discoveries yet to be made.
Please join us at sea, on the dives and on the coast by keeping in contact at www.pristineseas.org
Welcome to the Pristine Seas team: It’s going to be a fabulous energetic adventure!
The Pristine Seas Mozambique expedition is sponsored by Blancpain and Davidoff Cool Water.
Click here to view this blog post in Portuguese.