LANDOVER, Maryland -- The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation launches its final mission of coral reef research in the Bahamas, concluding the first year of its ambitious Global Reef Expedition. Having completed research in Cay Sal Bank, Hogsty Reef, and the Inaguas earlier this year, the Foundation now turns to Andros and Abaco islands to study sites that were last surveyed more than a decade ago.
The Global Reef Expedition is the first world-wide mapping and research assessment of coral reefs. The chairman of the Living Oceans Foundation, Prince Khaled bin Sultan, said an expedition of this scale "will greatly assist the world in understanding coral reefs, their health and critical role in the environment. Our research will produce maps of previously uncharted areas and provide management recommendations urgently needed to preserve these valuable ocean resources. We are involving local scientists in all of our research and exploration."
Andros contains the longest barrier reef in the Bahamas and the third largest in the world. The Foundation's science team, joined by Bahamian researchers, will identify the abundance, size, and health of reef building coral species as well as discovering how the reef has recovered from coral bleaching events in 1998.
The Foundation's Chief Scientist, Dr. Andrew Bruckner, said "Our research will lead to improvements in existing habitat maps and will help recent efforts to develop a land and sea use plan for the entire island including zoning of sensitive areas."
The Foundation will survey unstudied sites around the central Abaco islands as well as some that were last surveyed in 1999 which will yield important time-change information. The reefs of central Abaco are near areas of high population density and high user pressure which contrasts sharply with other reefs the Foundation has surveyed in the Bahamas, helping to further understand human impacts on reef health.
Commenting on the six months of coral reef research in The Bahamas the Foundation's Executive Director Captain Philip Renaud, USN (ret), said, "The successful and productive coral reef survey and mapping missions we have accomplished during our first year of the Global Reef Expedition could not have been possible without the committed support for our work from the Minister of the Environment, the Department of Marine Resources, Bahamas National Trust, and The Nature Conservancy."
Eric Carey, BNT Executive Director added "The Bahamas, as a nation, is extremely fortunate to have been chosen as the first country in the world-wide study of the health of coral reef environments by the Living Oceans Foundation. Young Bahamian scientists from the Department of Marine Resources , Bahamas National Trust and College of The Bahamas have had the opportunity to join the Living Oceans Foundation research team – a once in a lifetime experience. The final leg of the Bahamas Voyage will assess the Andros Barrier Reef and the reefs of the Abaco's. Both of these areas are critical for the health of Bahamian Fisheries and our larger marine environment. The information generated from the Global Reef Expedition will feed directly into the management of our national parks and marine protected areas."
Bahamian researchers include: Indira Brown, Jared Dillet, Agnessa Lundy, Lindy Knowles, Olivia Patterson, Krista Sherman, and Tavares Thompson.
About the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation
Founded by HRH Prince General Khaled bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia, the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation was incorporated in California as a 501(c)(3), public benefit, Private Operating Foundation in September 2000. With its headquarters in Washington DC, the Living Oceans Foundation is dedicated to the conservation and restoration of oceans of the world, and champions their preservation through research, education, and a commitment to Science Without Borders®. For more information, visit http://www.livingoceansfoundation.org.
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