Who we sponsor
Photo Squatina squatina © Michael Sealey
The angelshark, Squatina squatina, formerly widespread in the north-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean, has a unique stronghold in the Canary Islands.
The fact that it prefers coastal waters makes it especially vulnerable to overfishing and habitat destruction. These factors, together with its biological characteristics (it reaches a huge size, has a dorsoventrally flattened body and low fertility) mean that it is currently one of the most highly endangered species in European waters, considered “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN.
The “Angelshark Project”, developed on the Canary Islands since 2014, results from a collaborative partnership between the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) and the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig (ZFMK) and aims, among various initiatives, to obtain data on the ecology of this species, with a view to its conservation.
In the context of its mission, Oceanário de Lisboa provides financial support for this project. This support will enable the project to develop a methodology for the external electronic marking of specimens (to collect data on their behaviour and habitat use and long-term residence) and also to analyse sighting data, evaluating the distribution and abundance of specimens over time and according to the season of the year, through detailed analysis. The data obtained may prove to be fundamental for the conservation of this species in local terms and may be subsequently used in the implementation of conservation measures throughout its geographic distribution.
Manta Catalog Azores
The project “Manta Catalog Azores”, by the Okeanos R&D Centre at Azores University, aims to increase our knowledge about the presence of manta rays and mobula in the Azores and the Eastern Atlantic. The project seeks to understand the importance of habitats in the Azores as Essential Fish Habitats (EFH)* for populations from the species Mobula tarapacana and Manta birostris, since there is not much information on the subject in this region.
Given that they are markedly migratory and vulnerable species (their red list status is "Vulnerable" according to the IUCN), it is essential to understand their ecology, biology and behaviour to then be able to implement local and global, balanced management and conservation measures.
This project has photo identified individual fishes and gathered information about these species from remote video stations placed at the aggregation sites, as well as relying on the cooperation of local diving centres.
Local communities will be directly involved in this project through Citizen Science, whereby local tourist operators and fishermen will report sightings, abundance and images.
In line with its mission, Oceanário de Lisboa is a financial supporter of this project. Its backing makes it possible to genetically map the populations, collect biologic data in the field and create materials for the purposes of awareness-raising and publicity.
This type of study has never been carried out for Mobula tarapacana anywhere in the world; for Manta birostris, it has never been carried out in the North Atlantic Ocean. Consequently, the study's results may have an enormous impact on the future conservation of these species since they will reveal heretofore unknown information.
*Essential Fish Habitats (EFH)*: waters and substrates that guarantee the necessary conditions for spawning, reproduction, feeding or growth of fishes to maturity.
Fly with Bull Rays
The bull ray, Aetomylaeus bovinus, has been classified by IUCN as “Critically Endangered” in Europe and the Mediterranean and globally as “Data Deficient”.
The “Fly with Bull Rays” project, developed by IMAR (Institute of Marina Research, Azores), aims to monitor the bull ray population, through the photo-identification of individuals, thus increasing knowledge of this species in its areas of geographic occurrence (Mediterranean, Macaronesia (with exception of the Azores, where it does not occur), West African coast and part of the coast of East Africa (up to Mozambique)), particularly of its specific distribution, abundance, behaviour and way of life.
The project will also create a website incorporating a database about the species and where the public can upload photos of these animals in their natural environment. It will provide scientific advice and equipment to NGOs, so that they can conduct data collection campaigns at study sites and contribute to increased awareness of the vulnerability and importance of this species among the general public.
In the context of its mission, Oceanário de Lisboa provides financial support for this Project, ensuring the acquisition of equipment necessary for field sampling work, as well as the communication associated with the project. Since Oceanário de Lisboa is one of the few institutions in the world where we can see bull rays, it will also collect and share biometric data and photographs of the specimens in its collection.
Octoparque | The octopus at the Professor Luiz Saldanha Marine Park
The octopus is one of the most valuable fishing resources in Portugal and the main target for the licensed fleet at the Professor Luiz Saldanha Marine Park. In spite of its nation-wide relevance, fishing management of octopus is restricted to technical measures that are poorly inspected and complied with. In the specific case of the Professor Luiz Saldanha Marine Park, the high number of pots that are permanently placed in complementary and partial protection areas cause space issues with other arts (e.g. trammel nets) and other activities (e.g. diving); additionally, their presence reduces the efficacy of the proposed conservation measures. This project seeks to trial more effective measures for managing octopus fishing that have been successfully used in Galicia (Spain). Likewise, its goal is to add to the existing knowledge of the growth, movement and food behaviour of octopuses and well as their interaction with fishing areas and the survival of small octopuses after they have been tagged and released back into nature.
This project was been developed in partnership by Oceanário de Lisboa, the Instituto Português do Mar e Atmosfera and the IInstituto da Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas.
Oceanário funds the OCTOPARQUE, is involved in octopus maintenance and experimental tagging and supports in situ campaigns.
Faitag | Fish and aquatic invertebrate taxon advisory group
One of the problems which occurs in the population management of aquatic species is the genetics’ information: paternity origin, founder origin (how close are founders related to each other) and taxonomic issues (are all animals within the program from the same species).
The Fish and Aquatic Invertebrate Taxon Advisory Group (FAITAG) is a collaborative effort of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and European Union of Aquarium Curators (EUAC), that manages a genetics fund created within the breeding programmes for European public aquariums species, in particularly endangered species. The Oceanário de Lisboa sponsors a fund for genetic analysis within FAITAG. The main goal of this project is to organise and increase knowledge about husbandry and breeding of species with data deficient.
Conservation programs of sea turtles in São Tomé e Príncipe Islands
Sea turtles are born to last. With a unique form of armour, they have been swimming in the oceans since the time of the dinosaurs. For centuries they have been sought for their eggs, meat, oil, skin and carapaces, leading to a decline of many populations. Currently, with the rapid growth in human population, new threats have emerged that put their survival at risk. Pollution, bycatch, coastal development, climate change and illegal trade make sea turtles among the most threatened of species. For this reason, it is urgent to raise awareness of the need to protect them.
Oceanário is playing an active role supporting two projects for the conservation of sea turtles in São Tome and Príncipe Islands, promoted by the Association for Protection, Research and Conservation of Sea Turtles in the Lusophone Countries - ATM. Click here to learn more about this project.
The Sea Turtle Program in Príncipe Island is a project for conservation of sea turtles which develops actions of direct protection and awareness campaigns for the population. To enlarge the operation in the island of São Tomé, ATM partnered with the NGO MARAPA (Sea Artisanal Fisheries and Environment) responsible for the work of protection of sea turtles in the island.
With the development of these two projects the ATM 's main objectives are to develop protective actions, awareness campaigns, to intervene in the scientific area and cooperate in the development, education, training and introducing sustainable practices in local communities in both islands.
Actions such as measures for nesting control, for evaluation of the viability of the eggs and for monitoring adult survival conditions were implemented. On the other hand, the project aims to raise awareness among local people creating instructional and educational material for schools and creating a platform for sharing and dissemination of the collected data.
The Oceanário de Lisboa sponsors the PIABA project, developed in Rio Negro (Amazon, Brazil), whose mission is to promote the sustainable harvest and marketing of ornamental fish species, with a view to ensuring the survival of Amazonian rainforests and of their human inhabitants, including a large number of tribes. This sponsorship enables the training of local communities, which results in several benefits and contributes to promoting a culture focused on good environmental practices.
This project could have a significant impact on 40,000 people from Amazonian riverine communities, who rely chiefly on the ornamental fish trade for subsistence.
1,000 families known as “Piaberos” catch fish with their bare hands, calmly and gently, along Rio Negro. Unwanted fish are released immediately after capture.
Photo Sphyrna zygaena © Andy Murch / SeaPics.com
The project SHARK-TAG, of the Centre of Marine Sciences, University of Algarve, aims to deepen the knowledge of migration and habitat use of the smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena).
This shark is a semipelagic species with global distribution in temperate and tropical zones. It is one of the largest hammerhead sharks, occurs in coastal and open water and is particularly susceptible to overfishing, with some studies pointing to a decline in populations in the order of 80%.
Oceanário de Lisboa supports this project that targets one of the least studied species of the genus Sphyrna, with urgent need to deepen the knowledge for its conservation.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature this species is considered "vulnerable", however, this same agency requested the submission of more information, considering current information outdated. The results of this study, that use satellite telemetry, will complement the results of other studies about the biology and genetics of the population of hammerhead sharks in the Atlantic. This knowledge is critical for the implementation of conservation measures.
Behaviour, predator-prey interactions and fisheries of ocean sunfish, Mola mola
Ocean sunfishes spend much time drifting on the surface. For this reason they are vulnerable to fishing boats that use drift gillnets and various fishing methods that target other species.
This project aims to deepen the knowledge on migration, behaviour and habitat use of this specie. Under this project the ocean sunfishes are tagged with GPS transmitters to follow their migratory routes. On the other hand, samples of plankton and necropsy of some individuals will be made. With this information it is hoped, not only the determination of the main prey type of sunfish, but identify possible feeding areas. To predict the responses of species to external pressures such as climate change or fishing activities, campaigns are another important step towards a better knowledge of biology and ecology of this specie with the future goal of create measures for its conservation.
The project "Behaviour, predator - prey interactions and fisheries of sunfish, Mola mola" is promoted by CIBIO (OPorto University), the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom and the University of Southampton - UK, with financial support of Oceanário de Lisboa.
Oceanário is also supporting this project in the field of conservation medicine.
On May 9, 2013, during a campaign in southern Portugal, a sunfish with1.4 meters wide was tagged.
The route has been represented since the day it was marked, point (white), until September, when it was in the Mediterranean.
See here the trajectory of the first sunfish tagged with a GPS transmitter.
Adopt a seagrass bed
In Europe, seagrass beds are classified as threatened and declining marine ecosystems.
The project "Adopt a seagrass bed," promoted by Center of Marine Sciences (CCMAR) of University of Algarve, aimed to create multiple platforms to allow organizations to raise awareness among citizens and decision makers about the degradation of these ecosystems and found opportunities for involvement in monitoring and protection of these areas. Formed by plants (macrophytes) belonging to species in strict protection (Annex I of the Berne Convention), such as Zostera noltii, the Zostera marina and Cymodocea nodosa, these habitats in Europe are classified as threatened and in decline, by OSPAR Convention (Organization for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North Atlantic).
In the long term, this project gave the first step to create a management plan and conservation of seagrass beds in Portugal, reversing its degradation scenario.
Distribution and colonization strategy of the european river lamprey
This project, resulted from a partnership between the University of Évora and University of Lisbon (Oceanography Institute), aimed to expand the knowledge on spawning migrations of one of the currently most threatened species in Portugal, the River Lamprey.
The River Lamprey has a confirmed occurrence in the Tagus basin but occurs nowhere else in the country and during three years, it was possible to identify the factors on which its survival depends upon.
Protection and integrated management of sea turtles in Cape Verde and the Sada program in Príncipe Island
The project of protection and integrated management of sea turtles was implemented in a small fishing community in the county of São Domingo, located in the Island of Santiago, in Cape Verde.
In 2009 began efforts to implement this project on the island of Principe - SADA Program. This project, developed by the FERN group from the University of the Algarve, includes two components and attempts to contribute towards the conservation of five sea turtle species still occurring in this country. The first component includes social aspects and searches for alternative income sources for local populations, such as ecotourism and turtle watching. The second component is a more conservation oriented one, having the goal of ensuring the preservation of these threatened species.
Project MarGOV, promoted by the IMAR group of the New University of Lisbon, entailed the creation of a Collaborative Governance Model for the co-management of the Professor Luiz Saldanha Marine Park (Serra da Arrábida), with social and institutional stakeholders.
Supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and by Oceanário de Lisboa, the management philosophy included the participation of local communities, private and public entities and scientific communities, with the long-term goal of stretching co-management throughout a wide network of marine protected areas along the Portuguese continental coast.
CLEAN EEL's goal was to contribute for a management plan of this species and for its conservation on an international level.
The quantification of the impact caused most likely by parasite infestations and heavy metal contamination in this specie, aspects considered important in the overall decline of European eels, is critical to achieve the objective of conservation.
This study was promoted by the Oceanography Institute of the University of Lisbon.