Vamizi ’14

Project type: Shark tagging expedition
Date: September 2014
Location: Vamizi Island, Mozambique
Project target: To place acoustic tags on grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) to monitor the residency period of the grey reef shark aggregation at Neptune’s Arm dive site.
Collaborative Scientist: (in alphabetical order) Tess Hempson (South Africa, marine biologist and PhD candidate at James Cook University), Dr. Nigel Hussey (Canada, shark specialist University of Windsor), Isabel Marques da Silva (Portugal, marine biologist and PhD candidate at Universidade de Aveiro, Portugal), Dr. David Obura (Kenya, IUCN Coral Specialist Group), Yannis Papastamatiou (UK, research fellow at St Andrews University), Melinda Rekdahl (Australia, Postdoctoral researcher Wildlife Conservation Society),
Tagging team: William Winram, assisted by Angelos Metaxa
Organizer: IUCN & THE WATERMEN PROJECT

A birdseye view of Vamizi Island, Mozambique

A birdseye view of Vamizi Island, Mozambique

The purpose of this expedition was to support “one of the ongoing research projects at Vamizi’s Marine Conservation and Research Centre which focuses on a population of Grey Reef Sharks that not only have very special characteristics, but have an extremely important role in maintaining the ecosystem where they are found” (source: http://www.vamizi.com/blog/post/tagging-grey-reef-sharks).

Grey reef sharks of Vamizi

Grey reef sharks of Vamizi

It is a large collaborative efforts between scientists and conservationists who work with different marine species to study Vamizi’s unique ecosystem.

Oil extracting industrial interest nearby makes it paramount to study the Vamizi ecosystem and get a baseline understanding before the gas exploration evolves too much further.

Drilling for fossil fuel energy

Drilling for fossil fuel energy

For The Watermen Project’s founder, William Winram, it was the first time he saw sharks which were distinguly afraid of spearguns. It was a couple of days later that he found out that a nearby tribe is known to have hunted them with spearguns…

Tagging the sharks proved to be a particularly challenging experience because Neptune’s Arm diving spot has major currents most of the time, and when it abates, the sharks leave.

Nonetheless, it was an extraordinary experience, the reef is intact, it is (sadly) one of the few left in the world. William had amazing experiences with humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) as well as a particularly friendly a turtle belonging to the critically endangered species of Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata).

Vamizi Hawksbill Turtle

Vamizi Hawksbill Turtle

The encounters were filmed for the purpose of the making of the film Cradle of Coral a joint project with producers Mattias Klum Tierra Grande & Maryanne Culpepper.

“The environment is all that we have. If we don’t have the environment, we don’t have the life support system that sustains us. I think Vamizi is a baton of hope” – Dr. David Obura