All Out Africa (AOA) Marine Research Centre (MRC) is busy every northern hemisphere summer/southern hemisphere winter season running several international university field courses in marine biology and marine field techniques. Students come from the USA and Canada bringing with them professors from their own universities, to learn in our Tofo-based offices and work with our AOA MRC marine scientists.
While we have been running these international courses for several years now, 2018 was a big year for us because we introduced funded places on these courses for Mozambican university students. Capacity-building within the countries in which we work is key to the AOA ethos and we had long been wanting to add in funded places to enable students of Mozambique’s Eduardo Modlane University to develop their skills. This year this program took flight and Jorge and Carlos were selected from the qualified applicants to come along and take part with all their course expenses covered by AOA projects and AOA fundraising unit.
From 7 am lectures to pool sessions improving swim techniques, plankton trawls and literature reviews, through dive qualifications and development of personal research projects, Jorge and Carlos threw themselves into the course and kept up with its fast pace. They designed projects on a comparison of dive sites and assessment of biodiversity of tidepools. They gathered data using an array of techniques to contribute to this and other research, including Diver Observation Visual Surveys (DOVS) to assess fish abundance, and in recording and identifying the fauna of the inter-tidal pools, a historically heavily harvested zone for Tofo residents. Carlos worked with AOA MRC Marine Scientists to develop a Sustainable Seafood Guide for tourist, restauranteurs, and fishermen, to encourage sustainable catch and consumption.
Jorge looked into the social dynamics of the child vendors of Tofo to assess whether participating in the industry was harming these children’s schooling or future career opportunities.
Massive thanks go to Prof. Brad Magor of Alberta University, for facilitating two extra students on his already busy courses, and to Holly Kelcher our masters’ student from Louisiana State University for acting as student-liaison for Jorge and Carlos.
Overall this year’s funded capacity-building places for Mozambican students on AOA MRC International courses was a huge success, and we look forward to replicating this in future years with more students and potentially expanding to capacity build within the high school and graduate studies groups within Mozambique.
If you would like any information on participating in an International Marine Field Course at AOA MRC, running your own field course or would like to contribute to funding our capacity-building initiatives on these courses, we would love to hear from you. Please contact Ginger at firstname.lastname@example.org