1st to 4 November 2018


A meeting between two worlds

As part of the Monaco Explorations, H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco visited Badu island in the Torres Strait, between Australia and Papua New Guinea, and met the Badulgal people, a community living with and from the Ocean, which cares about the Ocean and is concerned about the pressures that threaten this symbiosis.

The course of the mission

H.S.H. the Sovereign Prince was the first Chief of State to visit the island. Accompanied, in particular, by Robert Calcagno, Director general of the Oceanographic Institute, the Prince shared a few days in immersion with the Badulgal people, in order to apprehend the foundations of a culture based on a perception of the world very different from our own.

A long friendship

The visit of the Sovereign Prince responded to the invitation of Alick Tipoti, a committed Badulgal artist. In 2016, at the Taba Naba exhibition, he had created an exceptional work of more than 600m2 for the roof of the Monaco Oceanographic Museum and had displayed a life-sized Dugong bronze.

Alick Tipoti: an internationally recognised artist

Through his art, exhibited in the world’s greatest museums, Alick Tipoti tells how oral culture, music, dance and visual arts permeate each other to provide us with fundamental knowledge on the marine environment, which is essential to the survival of the peoples.

Girelal, which is regarded as the largest linocut in the world, is presented as part of the Badu Island exhibition. The work’s subject is the cultural link between the indigenous people and their spiritual ancestors, the Muruygal. It is made up of traditional Melanesian Zenadh-Kes drawings.

Girelal linocut work, Alick Tipoti © M. Dagnino. Oceanographic Institute


Alick Tipoti bears the traditional name Zugub, which enables him to relate to the spirits of his ancestors, the Zugubal. “When I work late at night carving traditional designs, I can sense the presence of the spirits whom I recognize and verbally thank for their guidance in visualising the words they have given me”. 

Another vision of the Ocean

The interdependance between the Badulgal community and its environment (nature supports them and they try to protect it in return), the way they exploit the resources, their knowledge and their practice of the marine world are sources of inspiration for our modern and western societies, as well as for the message delivered by H.S.H. the Sovereign Prince to promote the sustainable management and protection of the Ocean.

The Torres Strait Islands

Located 14 000 km from the Principality of Monaco, at the junction of the Coral Sea and the Arafura Sea between Australia and Papua New Guinea, Badu Island is part of the Torres Strait Islands which have a population estimated at seven thousand inhabitants distributed on fourteen islands. They are the main indigenous population of Australia. Their history is distinguished from that of the Aborigines in particular by their strong ethnic and cultural ties with the neighbouring Melanesian peoples. Known as the ‘People of the sea’ , their daily life is governed by a strong interaction with the marine world. The marine diversity surrounding them, including animals such as dugongs, marine turtles and sharks, governs their traditions and know-how and determines their survival.

Badu, aerial view © A. Fuchs. Monaco Explorations

Locate Badu and the Torres Strait

Reconciling humanity and the sea MONACO EXPLORATIONS Around the world for 3 years at the bedside of the seas and oceans, H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco launched today the Monaco Explorations programme. Through it, the Principality will provide the international scientific community with a travelling research platform, the Yersin, on which researchers from all over the world will come and go for 36 months. "The decisions we have to take for the future of our planet are based on knowledge." said the Prince "... By returning to the principle of scientific explorations at sea, we will provide new concrete elements underpinning the messages of alert, awareness and education." The ship, flying the Monegasque flag, will leave the port of Monaco in August 2017 and return to Monaco in 2020 following a longitudinal route along the Tropics. The study areas were selected by the Scientific Steering Committee led by Professor Patrick Rampal (Monaco Scientific Center). The committee includes 10 members from institutions of international renown. Since several months, it has been selecting programmes among the dozens submitted. "It is both an immense honor to participate in such an adventure and a great distress to see from the records how badly we have treated our oceans." said Professor Rampal. The first of these missions will take place in September 2017 in Macaronesia around the archipelagos of Madeira and Cape Verde. Prince Albert I, who often visted this area, will inspire the research teams. Comparative studies will allow the analysis of the effects of sea exploitation and global change. The mission will focus on the knowledge and protection of the megafauna, including threatened species: turtles, cetaceans, monk seals, and sharks. The

A photography exhibition

Twenty four panels to discover the exchanges between H.S.H Prince Albert II and the families of Badu Island. Photographs and two magnificent linocuts by Alick Tipoti which highlight the millennia-old culture of this Sea People facing daily the evolution of a rapidly-changing world, and bear testimony to the artist’s sensibility and his profound osmosis with the forces of Nature and the Ocean.

Although they live in two seemingly opposed societies, the artist and the Chief of State share a common vision and unite their strengths for the Ocean. This crossed portait is the subject of a documentary directed by Trish Lake. The title : Alick & Albert. 

H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco is surrounded by Nicolas Laurent (to his left), Ariel Fuchs and Robert Calcagno (cap), at the foot of a huge silvery termite mound. © Sylvain Péroumal. Monaco Explorations.

The participants

H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco,

Mr. Nicolas Laurent (head of mission),

Colonel Bruno Philipponnat (special assistant to H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco),

Mr. Robert Calcagno, Director General of the Oceanographic Institute, Albert 1 Prince of Monaco Foundation,

Mr. Ariel Fuchs (writer),

Mr. Sylvain Péroumal (videographer Terre M’air Production).


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