Darwin200 reaches Salvador, Bahia, Brazil the forth port stop of the two-year planetary conservation mission aboard tall ship Oosterschelde
Next stop: Rio de Janeiro 3 November 2023
On 16th October 2023 historic tall ship Oosterschelde arrived in Salvador, Bahia, a vibrant coastal Brazilian city rich in culture, historic architecture and vibrant Atlantic rainforests for a week of conservation leadership programmes having sailed over 550 nautical miles from Fernando de Noronha.
Between 18th and 27th October, Oosterschelde will be docked at Terminal Marítimode Salvador (Contermas). There will be a series of activities aimed at supporting biodiversity conservation initiatives and environmental education for sustainability, with booth exhibitions, roundtable discussions, a roaming library, and photo exhibition which will be made available free to the public at the Veleiro visitor space with students, colleges, and young conservation leaders determined to inspire solutions to our planet’s greatest environmental challenges. In addition, the Government of Bahia is organising an excursion with students from Salvador and the Bahian interior, alongside researchers who are aboard the Oosterschelde.
Salvador is the fourth of 32 ports to be visited during DARWIN200, a two-year 40,000+ nautical mile voyage and conservation mission. The Darwin200 Global Voyage is retracing Charles Darwin’s famous journey on HMS Beagle and aims to change the world for the better by empowering 200 next-gen leaders of conservation.
During his voyage on HMS Beagle (1831–1836), a young Charles Darwin visited several places along the Brazilian coast. His observations on biodiversity, geology, and natural history during this journey contributed to the development of his theory of evolution by natural selection.
In each port of the DARWIN200 global voyage, small groups of ‘Darwin Leaders’, selected from around the world for their outstanding achievements in conservation, will join the tall ship for a week-long immersive conservation leadership training programme. Two hundred in total will take part over the two-year expedition – inspiring the project name. While in port, they set up home on board the ship and use the historic vessel as their laboratory and classroom, just as Charles Darwin did.
On October 18th 2023, a group of three Darwin Leaders from the African Atlantic archipelago of Cape Verde and from the USA will join the tall ship in Salvador. They will be embedded with local research and conservation organisations and experts to study Guiana Dolphins in Todos os Santos Bay and Sea Turtles along the coastline. .
DARWIN200 partners in Salvador, Bahia include the Laboratory of Acoustic Ecology and Animal Behaviour from Universidade Federal do Recôncavo da Bahia(LEAC – UFRB) and the Projeto Tamar Foundation.
Acoustic Ecology of Guiana dolphins in Todos os Santos Bay.
This research project, led by dr. Marcos R. Rossi-Santos, focuses on the acoustic ecology of Guiana dolphins in Todos os Santos Bay, Brazil, to understand the impact of anthropogenic underwater noise on marine conservation. Guiana dolphins are coastal species under threat from factors like noise pollution, habitat destruction, and accidental catches in fishing nets. The study area, Todos os Santos Bay, faces increasing urban development and lacks scientific research.
The project aims to gather information about Guiana dolphin populations through behavioural studies using photography and bioacoustics, alongside field observations. It seeks to answer questions about the sources and effects of anthropogenic noise, which can disrupt the dolphins’ communication and behaviour. The study will classify and quantify different noise sources, comparing them to natural biological sounds in the bay.
Anthropogenic noise is a global threat to marine life, and despite being categorised as “Near Threatened” by the IUCN, the Guiana dolphins in Todos os Santos Bay are vulnerable to noise pollution, among other factors. The study seeks to bridge gaps in scientific understanding and contribute to the conservation of this species and its ecosystem.
Weather conditions and urban development pose challenges to the research, but the team aims to conduct boat surveys to collect data, analyse the soundscape, and evaluate the contamination level of the bay. Additionally, the project may explore the issue of explosive or blast fishing in the area. This research is critical for the conservation of Guiana dolphins in the face of increasing anthropogenic pressures in their habitat.
Sea Turtle conservation science and strategies of Projeto Tamar
The Projeto Tamar Foundation has been operating along the Brazilian coastline since the 1980s with the mission of promoting the recovery of sea turtles through research, conservation, and social inclusion efforts. It is a private, non-profit organisation and a co-executor of the National Action Plan for Sea Turtle Conservation in Brazil by ICMBio/MMA, responsible for a significant portion of the planned actions.
The foundation is present in 23 locations across eight Brazilian states, including coastal zones and oceanic islands: Rio Grande do Norte, Pernambuco, Sergipe, Bahia, Espírito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Santa Catarina. They conduct research, management, and protection activities for the five sea turtle species in Brazil, along with community engagement, social inclusion, awareness, environmental education, local culture appreciation, and job and income generation. As a result of these continuous efforts, they have achieved significant milestones: documented population recovery, expanded scientific knowledge, coastal community support in ceasing direct turtle use and transitioning to protection, increased societal awareness and support, and self-generated resources (sustainability).
Darwin200 arrives in Salvador with the enthusiasm of Charles Darwin’s arrival in 1832 in mind. Darwin wrote “It was a delightful day. Delight, however, is a weak word to express the feelings of a naturalist who, for the first time, could wander alone through a Brazilian forest … The noise of the insects is so loud that it can even be heard on board a ship anchored hundreds of metres off the coast, and yet deep in the forest, absolute silence seems to prevail. This world has changed drastically.” Darwin200 will engage in research and protection of marine life. Our Darwin leaders will eagerly learn from Bahia’s top scientists and conservationists to enhance and exchange their knowledge and skills to bring back to their home organisations. Darwin200 will also look into the rehabilitation efforts of the mangrove forest surrounding the bay. In 2019, a leaking oil tanker from Venezuela caused a massive environmental disaster off the Brazilian coast. Conservationists are actively engaged in mangrove reforestation.. The region surrounding Salvador da Bahía spans a 2,000 square kilometre ecozone, hosting red, black, and white mangroves, providing habitat for young fish, crustaceans, sea turtles, and birds. Rolf Schreuder, Science Coordinator for DARWIN200
Working alongside local conservation experts, each Darwin Leader studies a species of animal, plant or an ecosystem, assesses its population status and how it has changed over the past two centuries, learns about conservation initiatives currently in place to protect it and develops their own ideas on how to better conserve the chosen species in the future. They each produce a film, a photo essay and a report from their research. These are available for the general public to see on the DARWIN200 website along with hundreds of free, online, nature and conservation-related educational resources as the ship becomes the “World’s Most Exciting Classroom”.
The intention is that each Darwin Leader will be empowered with new ideas, skills, and experience that will have a positive impact on the work they are already doing in their home countries and inspire their future careers in conservation.
The DARWIN200 mission is an official contributor to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030.
Darwin200 patrons and supporters include Dame Jane Goodall, Dr Sylvia Earle and Charles Darwin’s great-great-grand-daughter, Dr Sarah Darwin.
Meet the Darwin Leaders and their Conservation Projects in Salvador, Bahia
Darwin Leader Stefan Antunes from Cape Verde
Stefan Antunes, a dedicated conservationist, embarked on a journey that revived the critically endangered Raso Lark. Starting as a volunteer with Cagarra in 2015, Stefan’s commitment expanded to several endangered species. Currently, he works with various species, deploying data loggers, monitoring nests, and conducting population counts.
In his role as a field assistant at Biosfera, Stefan coordinates fieldwork at Ilhéu Raso camp, leading conservation efforts. What sets Stefan apart is his profound connection to the emotional aspect of conservation. He wholeheartedly believes in the cause, emphasising the human element alongside scientific data, which shines through in his work.
Stefan’s commitment extends to species like calhandras and sparrows, where he collects data, utilises coloured rings, and conducts population control counts. His dedication also involves conducting counts for Rabo de Junco biannually and Cagarra every four years. Monthly random ringing activities are a part of the regular routine, alongside year-round observations of coastal species at the camp.
Stefan’s journey also extends into marine life, driven by the Darwin200 program, which introduces him to dolphin research. His growing interest in marine life has broadened his knowledge and commitment to conserving our planet’s biodiversity.
Darwin Leader Luca Vincent from USA/Austria
Luca, an aspiring conservationist, boasts a strong academic background, including a Bachelor of Science in Biology (Ecology) from the University of Vienna. His recent role as an Aquarist at Heal the Bay showcased his ability to maintain aquarium exhibits, design innovative displays, and emphasise the importance of forging personal connections between people and the marine environment. Luca’s passion for preserving natural diversity fuels his drive to find innovative approaches for conservation efforts, ideally involving the public. With a background in environmental stewardship and a strong desire to make an impact, he’s poised to thrive in the Darwin Leader Program and build a network of like-minded leaders, contributing to the conservation of our precious ecosystems
Luca will immerse himself into the fundamental behavioural and bio-acoustic research of the Dolphins in the bay of Salvador
Darwin Leader João Delgado from Cape Verde
Joāo is a biologist in Cabo Verde working in sea turtle conservation on the beaches of the island of Santo Antão. His expertise spans the fields of environment, fisheries, and biodiversity data management, with a focus on Ecology and Fisheries Resource Assessment. Joao is also proficient in computer programming. Since his teenage years, João has been dedicated to sea turtle conservation, working with several NGOs in Cabo Verde and he currently serves as the Technical Scientific Coordinator at Terrimar – Ambiente e Desenvolvimento Sustentável.
Joao’s commitment to sea turtle conservation has led him from Cabo Verde to Projeto Tamar, an organisation renowned for its exceptional work in safeguarding sea turtles. During his week-long experience with Projeto Tamar, Joao will observe and learn from experts who have been working tirelessly to understand the impacts of climate change on sea turtles, their migration patterns, and strategies for preserving their populations.
What makes this collaboration stand out is that it unites conservationists from Cabo Verde, a small island nation in the Atlantic, with Projeto Tamar’s experts in Brazil. This exchange of knowledge, ideas, and expertise is not only a testament to Joao’s commitment but also to the collective effort of conservationists on both sides of the Atlantic.
Moreover, this collaborative effort extends beyond scientific research. Projeto Tamar’s remarkable public engagement and educational initiatives serve as a model for raising awareness about marine conservation and fostering a deep appreciation for sea turtles. Joao’s interaction with this aspect of Projeto Tamar’s work exemplifies the global need for environmental education.
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