9 October 2022

Post from September 14, 2022

Protecting Saya de Malha, "the invisible island"

In his book “L’Homme et l’Océan, préservons les océans pour protéger l’humanité” (Man and the Ocean, let’s preserve the oceans to protect mankind), recently published by Flammarion Versilio, H.S.H. Albert II of Monaco expresses his love for the blue waves and his commitment to environmental issues and the marine environment.”
This commitment has resulted in particular in the relaunch of the Principality’s exploration missions, with the creation in 2017 of Explorations de Monaco. This collaborative platform serving H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco’s commitment to knowledge, sustainable management and protection of the Ocean has conducted numerous multidisciplinary missions around the world over the past five years. These missions have been carried out with the aim of combining scientific research, public outreach and governmental cooperation in their approach.
Saya de Malha Bank. Indian Ocean
Sea grass and corals. Saya of Malha Bank. Indian Ocean©Tommy Trenchard - Greenpeace
A sperm whale dives on the edge of the Saya de Malha Bank in the Indian Ocean
A sperm whale dives on the edge of the Saya de Malha Bank©Tommy Trenchard - Greenpeace
The new mission of Monaco Explorations in the Western Indian Ocean is part of this quest for humanism and scientific truth. It is the first element of the “Monaco Explorations” project approved within the framework of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development 2021-2030
The study program is structured around the study of the Saya de Malha Bank, co-managed by Mauritius and Seychelles, the islands of Aldabra and St. Brandon and seamounts located on the mission route. It aims to meet the needs of the governments of Seychelles and Mauritius as a priority, while also ensuring a good articulation with the international and regional bodies and initiatives concerned, such as the Second International Indian Ocean Expedition (IIOE-2 – 2015-2025) or the Seabed 2030-GEBCO project.

One of the largest seagrass bed in the world

With a surface area of 40,000 km2, Saya de Malha is one of the largest underwater seagrass beds in the world. Located in the open sea, it shelters little known ecosystems, remote and difficult to access, already weakened by a strong fishing pressure. Without any emerged relief, this shallow plateau is qualified as an “invisible island”.
The objective of this study is to gather elements to determine if this area requires special protection and if so, to identify the management measures to be considered. For two months, the different actors of this large-scale operation; scientists, decision-makers, artists or mediation specialists will pool their skills and unite their efforts with the intention of raising awareness among the widest possible audience of the value of these natural areas and the pressures they face. The challenge and stakes are commensurate with the role and commitment of the Principality and its Sovereign within the international community to safeguard and sustainably manage the Ocean.
Portrait of Robert Calcagno
Robert Calcagno
Managing Director of the Société des Explorations de Monaco. He is also the General Director of the Oceanographic Institute, Foundation Albert I, Prince of Monaco, since 2009.

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