Oceano Azul Expedition Cascais | Mafra | Sintra

The municipalities of Cascais, Mafra and Sintra come together to study the region’s marine life, in partnership with the Portuguese Government and the Oceano Azul Foundation

The municipalities of Cascais, Mafra and Sintra are partnering with the Oceano Azul Foundation to carry out a scientific expedition in the waters adjacent to these municipalities. The expedition takes place between 1 and 12 October, on board the ship the Santa Maria Manuela.

This initiative is informed by an awareness of the need to understand and protect Portugal’s natural heritage, responding to national, European and international policies on the protection and sustainable management of the ocean. The Portuguese Government is also participating in this project, investing in deeper scientific knowledge of this marine region to learn how best to protect it.

The expedition boasts the invaluable involvement of scientific institutions such as the MARE – Centre for Marine and Environmental Sciences, the CCMAR – Centre for Marine Sciences, the CESAM – Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies, the SPEA – Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds, the IPMA – Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere and the IH – Hydrographic Institute. This expedition will open the way for a vital survey of the region’s natural values and provide a global assessment of its marine biodiversity.

Also, the collaboration of the local fishermen was fundamental. They were actively involved in the expedition, ensuring some of the work carried out with researchers.

Under the leadership of Emanuel Gonçalves, chief scientist and member of the board of directors of the Oceano Azul Foundation, and Henrique Cabral, biologist and researcher at the Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement (INRAE), this scientific expedition will spend two weeks collecting information, samples and images which will enable scientists to better understand the area’s biodiversity and marine habitats.

Scientific diving combined with various technologies such as drones, baited remote underwater video (BRUV) and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) will allow researchers to access areas that have not yet been adequately studied. Furthermore, while on land, the team will study the biodiversity of the intertidal zone.

The data and images collected will be used to compile a scientific report which will help diagnose the region’s health and determine its scientific and ecological value. This information will allow authorities to protect and sustainably manage natural values and marine resources.

In addition to the scientific report, a documentary of the expedition will also be produced.


About the expedition:  

  • Promoters: Cascais City Council, Mafra City Council, Sintra City Council and the Oceano Azul Foundation, with support from the Portuguese Government.
  • Scientific coordination: Oceano Azul Foundation
  • Scientific team: Oceano Azul Foundation, MARE, CCMAR, CESAM, SPEA, IPMA and IH.


About the Municipality of Cascais

Cascais, a coastal town currently home to over 200,000 residents, has the sea running through its veins. The municipality boasts 32 km of coastline punctuated by 16 coastal creeks and 17 picturesque beaches, which are one of its main territorial enhancement assets as well as principal sources of income, due to the tourists who flock here every year to enjoy them. Rich in natural values, Cascais has 14.6 hectares of its territory classified as National Park and is also home to the first locally-managed Marine Protected Area, which demonstrates the municipality’s commitment to maintaining the environmental quality of its territory.

Cascais is a leader in developing and deepening maritime knowledge and currently one of the municipalities in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area that understands the sea as an engine for development and innovation. Informed by this understanding, the municipality has adopted the Municipal Strategy for the Sea, with various projects underway to promote, enhance and sustainably develop the sea around Cascais.


About the Municipality of Mafra

The municipality of Mafra is home to 11 kilometres of coastline, mainly made up of rocky cliffs. The small bays that form along the coast contain a total of 12 beaches with excellent conditions for either relaxing in the sun or practising water sports. The Mafra coastline is recognised as a World Surfing Reserve, with seven world-class waves in a stretch of just four kilometres.


About the Municipality of Sintra

Sintra City Council is the local authority responsible for promoting the municipality’s development in all areas of life, such as health, education, social action and housing, the environment and basic sanitation, spatial and urban planning, transport and communications, public utilities, sports and culture, consumer protection and civil protection.

Sintra is a World Heritage Site in the Cultural Landscape category and has traditionally been a cultural destination, offering a perfect balance between natural and built heritage.

Sintra enjoys the benefits of a unique microclimate, owing to its geographical location close to the sea and the morphology of its terrain, namely the Sintra Mountains. This combination creates the perfect conditions for vegetation to grow and also gives the area a mild temperature throughout the year, with low temperature ranges.


About the Oceano Azul Foundation

The Oceano Azul Foundation was established in 2017 with the mission to promote the well-being and productivity of the ocean. Guided by the motto “From the ocean’s point of view”, the Foundation’s work is focused on three concepts: blue generation, blue natural capital and blue network. Working within a science-based approach, the Oceano Azul Foundation’s model for change integrates these concepts into its various projects in areas such as literacy, conservation, sustainable fishing, awareness campaigns, blue economy and capacity building. The Foundation collaborates with governments, foundations, civil society organisations and UN and EU organisations to advance the international agenda for the ocean.