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Marine Megafauna Foundation launches diving expeditions

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Join Andrea Marshall on MMF’s first dive expedition in Mozambique

The Marine Megafauna Foundation – a charity that aims to save threatened marine life – has unveiled new scuba diving expeditions to Mozambique where guests can join MMF’s co-founder Andrea Marshall and her team of scientists in their vital conservation research.

On this exciting expedition, divers will be able to explore the coast of Mozambique: one of the wildest and most breathtaking locations to encounter ocean giants like whale sharks, humpback whales and manta rays.

Not only will guests have the unique opportunity to dive and interact with these graceful and inquisitive creatures, they will also gain in depth knowledge about the species and contribute to research by helping to collect ID photos of the animals they encounter. For example each manta has a unique spot pattern on its underside that can be used to identify an individual, just like a fingerprint. By keeping photographic records of mantas, scientists can build a photographic catalogue of the population that can tell us about individuals and the population as a whole.

During the expedition, guests will learn how to:

  • Interact with whale sharks and manta rays without disrupting their natural behaviour

  • Identify the maturity of an individual animal and distinguish between males and females

  • Recognize different types of manta/shark/whale behavior

  • Take identification photos

  • Record environmental conditions

  • Process and organize ID photos

  • Identify different individuals using their unique spot patterns

Research presentations will give guests a greater insight into the biology, ecology and behavior of ocean giants such as Whale Sharks and Manta Rays, outline global threats to them and describe research and conservation efforts around the world.

The exclusive expedition, which runs from 23-31 August 2018 and is available from 3,280.00 USD per person not including flights, can accommodate five guests.

The itinerary includes:

  • 23 August  (Arrival Day): Guests arrive in the afternoon and prepare for an early start the next day. Optional group dinner to get to know the other expedition participants and your guide, Anna Flam

  • 24-25 August – Bazaruto: Double tank dives on both days led by MMF’s co-founder Andrea Marshall. If conditions allow, one day will be spent diving at 2 mile and the other at San Sebastian (experienced divers only). Possible sightings include: Mobula Cleaning station (one of the two known ones worldwide), turtles, reef sharks. MMF Co-Founder will join the dives on these days and will also give an exclusive private talk on her world-class research program. Accommodation in Vilanculos

  • 26 August – Vilanculos to Tofo: Departing Vilanculos in the morning to drive to Tofo Beach with a dive in the afternoon

  • 27, 28 & 29 August – Tofo: Diving the sites where MMF’s founder Andrea Marshall started her research on manta rays. Double dives will be scheduled but guests have the option of substituting one for land work with MMF’s marine research team if they are interested. Tofo and the surrounding areas offer lots of deep dive site, which makes for a great opportunity to see “big stuff” such as: whale sharks, manta rays, dolphins, turtles and more…

  • 30 August – non-diving day in Tofo: On the day before departure, guests will enjoy an Ocean Safari which is the perfect opportunity to see the breaching humpback whales which come to Tofo during this time of year

  • 31 August – Departure to Vilanculos.

Photo: Anna Flam, Marine Megafauna Foundation

In Bazaruto, guests will have the exclusive opportunity to dive with MMF’s Co-Founder Andrea Marshall – aka “Queen of Mantas.” Andrea was the first person in the world to complete a PhD on manta rays and has dedicated her life to the preservation and management of the manta ray population in Mozambique. Now a global ambassador for manta rays, Andrea continues to pursue international conservation initiatives for manta rays and fight for their protection worldwide.

In Tofo, the trip will be led by MMF’s Manta Researcher Anna Flam who, over the past four years with MMF, has been collecting vital information on manta ray population size, structure and connectivity. Her data can be used to further understand populations and guide the development of management and conservation strategies. Anna is also the global coordinator for MantaMatcher.org.

Anna Flam, MMF’s Manta Researcher, said: “Our new dive expeditions offer the unique opportunity of interacting with Mozambique’s stunning ocean giants while assisting MMF’s researchers in their vital conservation work. This is a truly once-in-a-lifetime trip, not only for the world-class diving but also for the exclusive access you’ll have to our scientists. We’re looking forward to welcoming our first group of divers to our beautiful home here in Mozambique!”

For more information or to book your place on this trip of a lifetime, please visit: https://marinemegafaunafoundation.org/dive-moz/.

Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Book Review: Plankton

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Plankton: A Worldwide Guide by Tom Jackson and Jennifer Parker

This is a book that jumps off the shelf at you. The striking front cover demands that you pick it up and delve further, even if you may not have known you wanted to learn more about the most diminutive life in our ocean, plankton!

Small it might be. Much of the imagery in the book has been taken under huge magnification. Revealing stunning beauty and diversity in each scoop of “soup”. There is lots to learn. Initial chapters include interesting facts about the different vertical zones they inhabit, from sunlight to midnight (the darkest and deepest areas). I loved finding out more about the stunning show that divers oft encounter on night dives – bioluminescence.

The black water images are wonderful. So this is a book you can have as a coffee table book to dip in and our of. But, these tiny organisms are also vital to our very survival and that of all the marine life we love. They provide half the oxygen produced on our planet. They are also responsible for regulating the planets climate. And for a shark lover like me – they are food for charismatic sharks and rays like the Basking Shark and Manta Ray, along with a huge number of other species. This book contains great insight into their biology, life cycles, migration, and how the changes in currents and sea temperatures affects them.

This is a book that is both beautiful and packed with information about possibly the most important group of organisms on our planet. Anyone interested in the ocean should have it one their shelves.

What the publisher says:

Plankton are the unsung heroes of planet Earth. Passive drifters through the world’s seas, oceans, and freshwater environments, most are invisible or very small, but some are longer than a whale. They are the global ocean’s foundation food, supporting almost all oceanic life, and they are also vitally important for land-based plants, animals, and other organisms. Plankton provides an incomparable look at these remarkable creatures, opening a window on the elegance and grace of microscopic marine life.

This engaging book reveals the amazing diversity of plankton, how they belong to a wide range of living groups, and how their ecology, lifestyles, and adaptations have evolved to suit an enormous range of conditions. It looks at plankton life cycles, the different ways plankton feed and grow, and the vast range of strategies they use for reproduction. It tracks where, how, and why plankton drift through the water; shares perspectives on migrations and population explosions or “blooms” and why they happen; and discusses the life-sustaining role of plankton in numerous intertwined food webs throughout the world.

Beautifully illustrated, Plankton sheds critical light on how global warming, pollution, diminishing resources, and overexploitation will adversely impact planktonic life, and how these effects will reverberate to every corner of our planet.

About the Authors:

Tom Jackson is a science writer whose many popular books include Strange Animals and Genetics in MinutesJennifer Parker is a zoology and conservation writer and the author of several books. Andrew Hirst is a leading expert on plankton whose research has taken him around the world, from the Antarctic to Greenland and the Great Barrier Reef.

Book Details

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Hardcover

Price: £25

ISBN: 9780691255996

Published: 9th April, 2024

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Marine Life & Conservation

Dive with a Purpose: Shark Guardian’s Expedition Galapagos

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Shark Guardian has just unveiled their largest and most exciting expedition yet: a seven-night, eight-day adventure in August 2026 aboard the Galaxy Diver II, a state-of-the-art
vessel specifically designed for divers exploring the enchanting waters of the Galapagos
Islands. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to engage deeply with marine
conservation in one of the world’s most revered diving destinations.

Shark Guardian is a UK registered charity dedicated to protecting sharks and marine
ecosystems worldwide. Founded by marine biologists and conservationists, Brendon
Sing and Liz Ward-Sing, Shark Guardian leads educational programs, research projects,
campaigns and expeditions aimed at fostering a better understanding and respect for
marine life. Their work spans several continents and focuses on direct action,
education, and advocacy.

Shark Guardian’s ethos revolves around the concept of “diving with a purpose.” This
philosophy underscores the importance of not just experiencing the wonders of the
underwater world but actively learning and contributing to its preservation. Participants
in Shark Guardian expeditions engage in citizen science projects, which involve
collecting data that supports ongoing research and conservation efforts. These
activities empower divers to make a tangible difference, turning each dive into an act of
conservation.

One of the newer additions to the Galapagos diving scene, the Galaxy Diver II, is
specifically tailored for divers. Its design prioritises comfort, safety, and environmental
responsibility. The vessel boasts modern amenities, spacious dive decks, and the latest
navigational technology, ensuring that every dive is not only memorable but also has
minimal environmental impact.

A highlight of this expedition is the opportunity to dive at Wolf and Darwin islands,
renowned for their vibrant, untouched marine ecosystems and as a haven for large
pelagic species. These islands are famous for their schools of hammerhead sharks,
whale sharks, and manta rays, offering spectacular diving that attracts enthusiasts from
around the globe.

Shark Guardian have developed this trip to ensure a hassle-free experience. The
expedition package also includes internal flights from Quito, Ecuador, to the Galapagos,
plus accommodation in Quito before and after the trip. This allows divers to relax and
enjoy the experience without worrying about logistics.

Participants will join a diverse group of passionate divers and conservationists. This trip
offers a unique opportunity to network with like-minded individuals who are eager to
learn about and contribute to marine conservation. It’s a chance to share experiences,
knowledge, and a commitment to protecting the marine world.

sharks

Shark Guardian is offering an early bird price available until May 31st 2024. This special
rate provides a fantastic opportunity to secure a spot on this exclusive expedition at a
reduced cost. Availability is limited, so interested divers are encouraged to act quickly
to ensure they don’t miss out. All the details can be found on their WeTravel page, where
bookings can be made easily and payment instalments are available.

Expedition Galapagos, aboard the Galaxy Diver II offers more than just a diving
holiday—it is an investment in both personal and planetary well-being. By participating,
divers not only witness the majesty of one of the world’s premier diving locales but also
contribute to its preservation for future generations.

Find out more about Shark Guardian at www.sharkguardian.org.

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