Monaco expedition research ship S.A Agulhas 2 already at Aldabra |22 October 2022
• Prince Albert II to arrive in Seychelles on Monday October 24
The long awaited S.A Agulhas 2 of the Monaco expedition is already at Aldabra, the Minister for Fisheries and Blue Economy Jean-Francois Ferrari has announced.
To follow up the expedition, Prince Albert II will personally come to Seychelles on Monday October 24 accompanied by Dr Sylvia Earle.
After Aldabra, the boat will be in Port Victoria from October 28-31 before heading to explore the Saya de Malha region from November 2-17.
A group of 80 scientists coming from all around the world are on this unique and important mission and 15 to 20 Seychellois will be part of the trip.
This project is designed with a goal of “Science to support Marine Governance and Planning” and the expected outcomes are to collect scientific information on still poorly known areas of the marine environment in shallow areas and its slopes; Realisation of an inventory of the benthic biodiversity, assessment of its specificities, in order to map the essential and sensitive habitats that could require, if necessary, specific conservation measures; Scientific promotion in international journals; Fact sheets on the habitats and communities and have a concise policy brief for institutional stakeholders and policy makers in Seychelles.
Minister Ferrari noted that the Government of Seychelles is very pleased and excited to welcome the Monaco expedition to Seychelles. “They are hosted by the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) and it is a moment of great pride that we can participate in such a prestigious activity. The Monaco expeditions are promoted by Prince Albert II. The Monaco expedition was initiated more than 100 years ago by Prince Albert I of Monaco to make people better understand and value our ocean. His great-great-grandson HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco followed in his footsteps and put the protection of the planet and particularly the ocean high on his agenda.”
Minister Ferrari also shared that the Monaco expedition is highly prestigious and it is an opportunity for local scientists, managers of Aldabra to interact with the other scientists who are on the boat.
“There will be scientific works done on the seabed, the corals, the turtles, the flora and fauna of Aldabra. This scientific work will surely complement the work that we have done ourselves in the past. Aldabra is such a rich natural lab that we will never finish exploring it! And each time we get a partner that wants to explore the island, we are happy to join hands with them. We have signed all the necessary documents to ensure that we get a fair share of the data collected and we receive the scientific information generated through this research. We believe it will be a fantastic experience and a great occasion for Seychelles,” Minister Ferrari said.
The second leg of the expedition will be the Saya de Malha bank. “This is a massive underwater sea mount with great sea grass meadows and probably and hopefully very rich fauna that we can study. We might also find some resources that we can exploit commercially for the benefit of Seychelles. This is an area shared and managed by Mauritius and Seychelles and it’s a local-regional partnership in a worldwide exchange of science. Exciting times and hopefully good publicity for Seychelles,” explained Minister Ferrari.
Dr Frauke Fleischer-Dogley added that for this research trip, the Monaco Foundation called for scientists around the world and they chose the best. “Our students will benefit from this trip and they had to apply to receive a fellowship. At Aldabra there are currently five teams of scientists. They are doing research on turtles, corals etc. Seychelles, through SIF, is hosting the research ship thus not spending a dime. We are rather receiving some funds and also, we manage to get a collaboration with the Monaco Foundation to eradicate rats and cats on Aldabra. The project will cost approximately 15 million euros,” shared Dr Fleischer-Dogley.
Prince Albert of Monaco has instigated a flagship project for the Principality—Monaco Explorations—as a platform for his commitment to the knowledge, sustainable management, and protection of the ocean. The project was officially endorsed on World Ocean Day in June 2021 in response to the first call for actions of the UN Ocean Decade; and the expedition began in the Western Indian Ocean - Mauritius in October.
When Prince Albert of Monaco will arrive on Monday he will take a small plane to Assomption then head to Aldabra on the Coast Guard boat to join the research team. On his return to Mahé on October 26, he will meet President Wavel Ramkalawan and following that some of the most famous scientists will meet with the cabinet of ministers to share their experiences on Aldabra.
When the research ship will dock at Victoria, there will be some activities for the students on Mahé.