ANDOVER, Maryland -- HRH Prince General Khaled bin Sultan, founder and Chairman of the Living Oceans Foundation, the U.S.-headquartered environmental organization that bears his name, today announced the formal launch of the Foundation's "Global Reef Expedition: Science Without Borders(R)" at the World Conservation Congress being held here.
The three-year study of shallow coral reef environments around the world will begin in 2010 with the resulting scientific information being shared freely with involved parties and the scientific and regulatory communities. The expedition will be outfitted, equipped and financed by the Living Oceans Foundation, which 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(R)."
"Our goal is to join the efforts of countries in different parts of the globe to conserve, and hopefully restore their coral reefs and other marine resources. The studies will include widespread mapping of endangered coral reefs by joint teams of world renowned experts -- as an essential first step towards their management and protection," said the Foundation's Chairman, Prince Khaled.
"Coral reefs are in grave danger of extinction," explained Prince Khaled. "They are declining worldwide due to steadily increasing threats from direct human pressures and indirect effects of climate change. Significant numbers of the world's reefs are already lost, or are under either imminent or longer-term risk of collapse."
With support and cooperation from local and regional scientific and regulatory agencies, the primary scientific goals of the Expedition are to map and characterize coral reef ecosystems, identify their current status and major threats, and examine factors that enhance their capacity to resist, survive and rapidly recover from major disturbance events. This information is important for developing sound management strategies for coral reefs.
Prince Khaled has been actively concerned with the world's great oceans for the past two decades. In the earlier years of his interest he spent time with leading marine scientists and facilitated ocean research by providing access to remote sites through his specially outfitted ships. Eight years ago, while sharing ideas with a small group of environmentalists, the concept of the Living Oceans Foundation came about. "Science Without Borders(R)" has become 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.
"With our ocean-going research vessel, we are able to access any part of the world, however remote -- indeed, any country where the local government recognizes the need for a better understanding of its coral reef resources and of the associated marine animals and plants," explained Captain Philip G. Renaud, Executive Director of the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation.
Captain Renaud said local scientists and managers will be invited to join the Foundation's research team so that they may share in the experience, and provide local guidance and knowledge.
This latest expedition builds on the Living Oceans Foundation's solid experience as a leader of underwater scientific research expeditions. Past expeditions, under the banner of the Living Ocean's Foundation, have taken scientists around the world -- to the Mediterranean, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Sea of Cortez, the Seychelles, Indonesia, and the Red Sea.
"The Global Reef Expedition: Science Without Borders(R)" will only go where invited. The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation is actively seeking support from governments of sovereign countries around the world to partner with the Expedition's teams of scientists and professionals as they work towards a better knowledge of coral reef habitats and the ultimate goal of preserving and protecting the biodiversity, health, heritage and social and economic value of these precious resources.
The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation is headquartered just outside of Washington, DC in Landover, Maryland. For more information, visit http://www.livingoceansfoundation.org
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