The Bazaruto Archipelago National Park was created in 1971, Mozambique’s first marine park, and at the time consisted of only Benguerra, Magaruque, and Bangue islands. The Park was expanded in 2001 to include Bazaruto, and Santa Carolina islands.
The park is famed for its attractive and unspoiled beaches, tranquil aquamarine waters, prolific marine wildlife, and for its exceptional diving, choice kitesurfing conditions, superb recreational angling, exceptional stand-up paddle boarding, and unrivalled overall beauty.
Extending over 143,000 hectares of diverse marine and varied terrestrial landscapes, the park includes a broad range of terrestrial and marine habitats including coastal dunes, rocky and sandy shores, coral reefs, mangrove forests and seagrass meadows. These habitats provide refuge for over 180 species of birds, 45 species of reptiles, 16 species of terrestrial mammal, 500 species of marine and coastal mollusks, and 2,000 fish species. At least three species of whales, five species of dolphin and the endangered dugong occur with the park. Migratory species making use of the park’s marine environment include whale sharks, great white sharks, manta rays, killer whales, Southern right and humpback whales.
The area’s climate is seasonally tropical, with average annual temperature on the islands reaching 24°C (summer maximum is 30°C and the winter minimum 18°C), while the average annual rainfall is 978 mm- ranging from 466 to 1928 mm. The prevailing south to south-easterly winds generate maximum swells of up to four meters, and the region is periodically subject to cyclones from January to March.
The Archipelago is rich in birdlife. The diversity of habitats and its prominent location for stop-over migrating birds contributes to this rich avifauna. Over the years many amateur birdwatchers and professional ornithologists have contributed to an understanding of the avifauna of the Bazaruto Archipelago. Together, more than 180 species have been recorded during these observations. Not surprisingly, the avifauna is strongly influenced by coastal birds, such as waders and especially terns. Rare birds periodically visit the park. Examples include the Palaearctic form of the peregrine falcon. Pratincoles and ospreys are also some of the rarer species that have been encountered. While Greater and Lesser flamingos, Great white and Pink-backed pelicans, along with five Kingfisher species are among the park's choicest specimens.
Aside from the fact that Bazaruto is located in an ecologically-rich tropical zone, it is the close proximity of the park's varied marine habitats that contribute to its outstanding ichthyologic wealth. The eastern half of the park is subject to a considerable influx of pelagic and larger species. Many of these are predators, such as the kingfishes, king mackerel, sharks and, quite commonly also the billfishes such as marlin and sailfish. Sport-anglers prize the latter, and the park is famed for the annual billfish competitions. Slightly further from the shore, true oceanic species take up residence, including the brightly coloured Dorado, the tropical yellowtail and, not infrequently, the rainbow runner. A considerable diversity of sharks venture inshore, most common are the Zambezi and Java sharks that may occur around all the islands. The Blacktip, Blackfin and Dusky sharks occur predominantly offshore, including large charismatic species such as the Giant manta rays and the Whale sharks. Divers commonly see both over the deeper reefs – or at times simply at the surface from a vessel. Shoals of smaller species belonging to the sardine and anchovy families are seasonally common. These species provide food for larger fish predators as well as whales and dolphins.
Most of the park’s reefs are located to the east of its islands. The reefs themselves are varied in structure and offer a range of diving experiences for the ecotourism industry. They are a valuable resource as they comprise an isolated node of reef development between the limited reefs in southern Mozambique and South Africa and the more extensive coral reefs north of Beira. The most spectacular diving is to be found in the outer reef areas where large fish are encountered and on the shallow, fringing reef tops where an abundance of staghorn corals, with a diversity of other corals and colourful reef fish occur. In terms of diversity, Bazaruto has slightly more hard coral species than found on South African reefs, but fewer soft corals.
The park is home to a resident population of approximately 5,800 people who are governed through traditional councils, and clustered loosely into eight focal villages across three islands. The Park contributes 20% of all tourism revenue to the local community through their respective councils to support projects that benefit the society as a whole.
Sign up to be the first to hear #GoodNews happening around African Parks.×