Earth from Space: Inhambane Bay, Mozambique


Inhambane Bay, in southeast Mozambique, is featured in this true-colour image captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission.

Click on the image below to explore it in its full 10 m resolution.

Inhambane Bay is a deep inlet into which the small Mutamba River flows. In the north of the bay, where the waters exit into the Mozambique Channel, an arm of the Indian Ocean, different water depths can be identified in tones of green and blue.

Two small islands can be seen in Inhambane Bay: Ilha dos Porcos (Pig Island) in the north and Ilha dos Ratos (Rat Island) in the south. On one side of the bay lies the historical city of Inhambane, capital of the Inhambane Province, while the sister city of Maxixe, the economic capital of Inhambane, sits across from it. The province is the second largest grower of cashews, after Nampula, and it also produces coconut and citrus fruits.

The region belongs to the Southern Zanzibar–Inhambane coastal forest mosaic, a tropical forest ecoregion of east Africa. The ecoregion stretches around 50 km inwards from the coast and supports a variety of habitats including forest, savanna and swamps.

The long coastline of Inhambane supports fishing activities while the stunning beaches of Barra and Tofo, located on the opposite side of the peninsula, are popular seaside destinations. The coastline is also dotted with coral reefs making it a popular region for scuba diving and snorkelling. The waters off the coast are also famed as one of the last remaining populations of dugong in Mozambique.

Mozambique’s extensive coastline heightens the country’s vulnerability to tropical cyclones that develop in the Indian Ocean as well as storm surge flooding. More than half of the population lives in low lying coastal areas, putting communities at risk. Inhambane Bay was dangerously close to where Cyclone Idai made landfall in 2019 causing widespread destruction to the country.

Satellites orbiting Earth can provide indispensable up-to-date information to observe such events, and, importantly, to map flooded areas for response teams facing these dire situations. This image was captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission, which is based on a constellation of two satellites, both orbiting Earth at an altitude of 786 km but 180° apart. This configuration optimises coverage and global revisit times. 

This image is also featured on the Earth from Space video programme.

ESA also photos