LANDOVER, Md., June 5, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation will collaborate with the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis and The Nature Conservancy during the second research project of a multi-year Global Reef Expedition, an unprecedented world-wide study of the health and resilience of coral reef environments. Research in St. Kitts and Nevis will take place from June 3-13, 2011.
Under the banner of Science Without Borders®, the ambitious Global Reef Expedition is being outfitted, equipped and financed by the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, which is headquartered in the Washington DC suburb of Landover, Maryland. The Living Oceans Foundation has built a core expertise around coral reef research, conservation, and restoration activities.
The ten day research expedition in the waters surrounding St. Kitts and Nevis will use the highly equipped, specially outfitted 220 foot research vessel, Golden Shadow, as a research platform.
Captain Phillip Renaud, USN (ret), the Foundation's Executive Director, noted that coral reefs are one of the most diverse ecosystems on our planet and rival tropical rain forests for the sheer number of species they support. The health of coral reefs worldwide serves as a bellwether for the overall health of our planet.
Andrew Bruckner, Ph.D., the Foundation's Chief Scientist, said the scientific objectives of the St. Kitts and Nevis research are three-fold: the validation of marine habitat maps by verifying the distribution and location of the shallow marine habitats; understanding the species composition of these marine habitats; and characterizing the community structure, health, and resilience of associated coral reef ecosystems.
Founder of the Living Oceans Foundation, Saudi Arabia Prince Khaled bin Sultan said "It is not always clear to the casual observer that ocean health is in serious trouble. But it is. If we do not take aggressive steps to care for our oceans now, our inaction will have dire consequences for the future. Our children and grandchildren will certainly suffer the consequences. Over the past 50 years, 20 per cent of coral reefs worldwide have died. It is conceivable that over the course of one human lifetime more than half of coral reefs worldwide will no longer exist." The good news, Prince Khaled said, is that it is not too late to reverse the decline in ocean health. He stressed that "we must raise public awareness about the coral reef crisis and educate people about the solutions."
The international launch of the Global Reef Expedition took place in the Cay Sal Bank area of The Bahamas April 26 to May 18.
The Nature Conservancy is collaborating with the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation on the St. Kitts and Nevis mission including the identification of local scientific personnel to be part of the research team involving other scientists from around the world.
Philip Kramer, Director of the Caribbean Program, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) said," We are thrilled that the Living Oceans Foundation is using the Caribbean region to launch their Global Reef Expedition. Coral reefs are vital to the livelihoods and economy of the Caribbean region yet there remain large gaps in our understanding of the extent and condition of this important resource. Research expeditions such as those undertaken by the Living Oceans Foundation are greatly needed to develop comprehensive baselines and increase our understanding about impacts associated with climate change and invasive species. The survey results will be used to inform new approaches to ecosystem-based fisheries management and expanding marine protected areas in several countries under the Caribbean Challenge initiative."
Ruth Blyther, TNC's Eastern Caribbean Representative, added, "The Nature Conservancy is pleased to collaborate with the Living Oceans Foundation to support this first-ever comprehensive assessment of the coral reefs of St. Kitts and Nevis carried out at the request of Government. This research builds on recent work coordinated with local fishers to map the values of their fishing areas for various fisheries and the ongoing efforts for national multiple use marine zoning. The marine environment is vitally important to the people and economy of St. Kitts and Nevis. The work of the Living Oceans Foundation's Global Reef Expedition will contribute valuable information for its sustainable management."
Several outreach and educational programs are also planned by the Living Oceans Foundation while it is in St. Kitts.
- On June 3rd, a one day workshop will be held for local researchers which will provide them with valuable experience in advanced coral reef survey techniques.
- One day during the Expedition, a group of local fishermen and other stakeholders will meet with the scientists aboard the Golden Shadow to share perspectives and experiences.
- An outreach cruise for school groups and other invited guests has been scheduled for June 13th at the conclusion of the research.
"We are just beginning to understand how important ocean health is to human health and to the wellbeing of our entire planet" said Captain Renaud. "The challenge ahead is to muster the political will and harness international resources to stop and reverse the momentum of ocean degradation. Our outreach programs which we will undertake in every country where we conduct research have been purposely designed to reach out to the broadest cross section of individuals and groups who can facilitate awareness and positive change."
The Global Reef Expedition will conduct research by invitation only and the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation is grateful for the support and interest received from governments of sovereign countries around the world. The Global Reef Expedition will travel east to west from the Caribbean to the Pacific Ocean then on to the Indian Ocean and Red Sea.
About Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation
The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, founded by HRH Prince General Khaled bin Sultan, was incorporated in California as a 501(c)(3), public benefit, Private Operating Foundation in September 2000. Headquartered in Washington DC, the Living Oceans Foundation is dedicated to the conservation and restoration of living oceans and pledges to champion their preservation through research, education, and a commitment to Science Without Borders®.
Science Without Borders® is the overarching theme of the Foundation, where scientists come together from different countries to solve a common problem -- the threats to the world's coral reefs. Science Without Borders® is registered to the Foundation for financial sponsorship of marine conservation programs and scientific research and to promote public awareness of the need to preserve, protect and restore the world's oceans and aquatic resources.
CAPT Philip G. Renaud, USN (ret)
Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation
Phone (301)577-1288 - Toll Free (877)484-3623 - Fax (301)577-5735
SOURCE Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation