Living Oceans Foundation fights ocean pollution in Small Island Developing States
By GENA GIBBS
Nassau, The Bahamas
FIGHTING for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to have the scientific right to ecological protection is the mission of Khaled bin Sultan's Living Oceans Foundation.
After prior extensive aerial surveys and reconnaissance of the Cay Sal Bank, the first expedition will take place there on April 26.
Prince Khaled bin Sultan of the Saudi Royals began his foundation 10 years ago and is now funding a five-year global expedition. Since one of his passions is deep-ocean diving, he said he feels a special connection to the ocean. He has chosen a team of scientists who are now evaluating the impact that global pollution has on marine life and human survival.
"The first thing people ask is who is Khaled bin Sultan? He is a Saudi Arabian Royal and he is the Assistant Minister of Defence and Aviation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," said Captain Phil Renault, executive director of the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation.
"So, everyone says, 'well how did he ever start this foundation?' About 15 years ago, he built these ships and the ship we're standing on right here is the Motor Yacht Golden Shadow. It is actually designed as a logistical support ship for the yacht he has."
Captain Renault explained that the captain of the ship in the mid 90s realised the Golden Shadow was an amazing platform to conduct oceanographic research. The yacht began to attract business from many oceanographers and researchers from around the world.
"And then someone advised the Prince that might be the proper time to establish a foundation, and that was the genesis of the Khalid bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation. We just turned 10 years old," said Captain Renault.
"I consider the first decade of our foundation to be a developmental phase and the first generation in building capabilities and capacities. We are looking forward to entering what I consider the second generation of the Living Oceans Foundation and that is this global reef expedition. It is a very, very ambitious project."
The Living Oceans Foundation chose the Bahamas to launch their "Science Without Borders" research project on board the Motor Yacht Golden Shadow to examine the coral reef systems in the Red Sea, Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.
The foundation spent their first 10 years finding a niche in coral reef studies and surveys. Now they will spend the next five years going around the world mapping, characterising, and surveying the ocean resources.
"Beginning right here in the Bahamas, we'll take this ship around the world and we'll survey both remote and near shore coral reefs. We're going to look across gradients of biodiversity, and man-made stress, and try to close some of these scientific gaps," said Captain Renault.
"We have some significant gaps in the scientific knowledge on these coral reef ecosystems and our contribution will be to applied science. Products and outputs from this big project can go directly towards management and that's where it all becomes important."
Captain Renault said that global resource managers in business to protect coral reefs and their future natural sustainability are hungry for information.
"They are hungry for maps and they are hungry for outputs from a project like ours," said Captain Renault.
April 13, 2011