St. Kitts and Nevis Participates in Global Reef Expedition

Golden Shadow

LANDOVER, Md., June 5, 2011 — 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.

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