Last year, the Journal des Archipels reported extensively on the MAEO project launched by the ARBRE association (Agence de Recherche pour la Biodiversité à La Réunion). This year, the initiative has been renewed in the same terms.
Image: @Gerald Rambert: A stingray with black spots.
In 2021, the Observatoire des Elasmobranches au sein de l’Archipel des Mascareignes (MAEO) was created by the ARBRE* association in collaboration with the University of Mauritius. Co-financed by the European Union as part of the INTERREG V OI OP and the Réunion Region, it is the first scientific and educational project on elasmobranchs (rays and sharks) in the Mascarene Islands.
The MAEO project has a number of objectives: field research is carried out using underwater cameras and exploratory dives to draw up an inventory of the species present, and an eco-participatory network has been set up with an online platform for marine environment users to enter their observations. This allows the public to get involved, and to reference as many elasmobranch sightings as possible. The data collected is analyzed in order to study the spatio-temporal dynamics of these species, and thus provide a better understanding of elasmobranchs on a regional scale. Finally, awareness-raising campaigns for the general public and schoolchildren are organized to pass on and disseminate this knowledge.
Reunion Island from November 10 to 27, 2023
In this context, and in order to promote this participative science project, the ARBRE association and the FFESSM “Environnement et Bio subaquatiques” and “Photo-vidéo sous-marine” commissions, in partnership with the Réserve Naturelle Marine de La Réunion and Sciences Réunion, are launching the second edition of an international underwater image competition, on the theme of “Elasmobranches”. The competition is open to all underwater photographers. This regional underwater photography competition brings together all the countries of the western Indian Ocean basin: Reunion, Mauritius, Rodrigues, Mayotte, Comoros, Seychelles, Madagascar, South Africa and East Africa (from Somalia to Mozambique). It will showcase the biodiversity of elasmobranchs on a regional scale, and help raise awareness of this exceptional fauna. Indeed, the the competition will be associated with the Fête de la Science, which will take place in La Réunion from November 10 to 27, 2023,
during which a conference for the general public will present the MAEO project and its results. The photos will be classified into two categories, amateur and expert, and submitted to a jury. They will also be submitted to school classes in the Aires Marines Éducatives (AME) for judging, to enable students to participate and elect their “Prix coup de cœur”.
To ensure the success of this unique competition, the association is appealing for various forms of support: “material or financial, in order to offer prizes to the seven competition winners, or in terms of communication, in order to relay information about the competition. In return, we are at your disposal to define together what could be the rewards we could offer you.”
The list of competition partners is posted and regularly updated on the ARBRE website. Partners will also benefit from media coverage (press, radio, television, internet, social networks) linked to the event at local, national, regional (Western Indian Ocean) and international level.
Estelle CROCHELET – email@example.com
Director of the MAEO (Mascarene Archipelago Elasmobranch Observatory) project – https://obs.maeoproject.org/