19 August to 11 September 2017
Madeira 2017 Mission – Atlantic Ocean
Taking the helm again...
In May 2017, under the umbrella of Monaco Explorations, the Principality of Monaco called on the Republic of Portugal and the Autonomous Region of Madeira to host a scientific mission mainly involving local scientific teams, associations and NGOs. The purpose of this mission was to study the biodiversity around Madeira and the Selvagens Islands (Savage Islands). It also intended to offer better insight into the richness and importance of these natural environments through numerous outreach and awareness-raising actions.
In the past, Madeira was the site of many of Prince Albert 1st of Monaco’s scientific campaigns. Choosing this destination for the first-ever mission was a tribute which H.S.H. Prince Albert II paid to his great-great-grandfather as well as being a statement of strong international commitment to studying, deepening knowledge and protecting the marine environment.
Spurred on by the Monaco Sovereign, the Principality, as such, renewed with the great tradition of exploring for learning, knowing, loving and protecting the Oceans.
Destination Madeira and the Selvagens
5 to 7 September 2017: a diplomatic, historic and scientific visit by the Prince.
In Lisbon on 5 September 2017, H.S.H. the Sovereign Prince met with H.E. Mr Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, President of the Republic of Portugal, at Belém Palace, to discuss relations between the two countries, environmental protection topics and more particularly Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). A little later on, he was welcomed at Cristiano Ronaldo Madeira International Airport by Mr Juiz Conselheiro Ireneu Barreto, Representative of the Republic for the Autonomous Region of Madeira by Dr José Lino Tranquada Gomes, President of the Legislative Assembly of Madeira and by Dr Miguel Albuquerque, President of the Regional Government, in the presence of Mr Robert Calcagno, CEO of the Oceanographic Institute and in charge of Monaco Explorations’ Scientific Campaign Department.
Official meeting between H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco and the President of the Republic of Portugal, H.E. Mr Marcelo Rebelo De Sousa. Lisbon, 5 September 2017 © Rui Ochoa.
Tribute to Albert 1st of Monaco
When H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco arrived in Funchal, the island’s capital, he visited the Lido, the modern district along the seafront, to inaugurate a square Albert 1st of Monaco, in the presence of Madeira authorities, a delegation from Monaco and the local population.
H.S.H. Prince Albert II then inaugurated, in the Museum of Natural History of Funchal the exhibition “A Prince explorer, Albert 1st of Monaco on the discovery of Madeira”. This exhibition was devised as a travel journal, following Prince Albert 1st’s trip to Madeira between 1879 and 1912, based on his correspondence, his personal diary, a host of photos from the period, scientific instruments and paintings by Louis Tinayre.
The Albert 1st Square in Funchal, inaugurated by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco. Alongside him are Mrs Manuela Aranha, artist creator of the commemorative plaque and Mr Cafofo, Mayor of Funchal © Axel Bastello. Princely Palace of Monaco
The bronze commemorative plaque dedicated to Prince Albert 1st of Monaco © P.Piguet. Oceanographic Institute
The project of the artist, Mrs Manuela Aranha © P.Piguet, Oceanographic Institute
Inaugural visit to the exhibition commented by Thomas Fouilleron, Director of the Princely Palace of Monaco Archives and Library. Prince Albert II is accompanied by, to his right, Dr Miguel Albuquerque, President of the Regional Government of Madeira © Axel Bastello. Princely Palace of Monaco.
From left to right: Mr Thomas Fouilleron, Director of the Princely Palace of Monaco Archives and Library, Mr Robert Calcagno, CEO of the Oceanographic Institute, Prince Albert 1st of Monaco Foundation, Prince de Monaco, H.S.H. Albert II of Monaco, M Cafofo, Mayor of Funchal, Prof. Manuel Biscoito, Curator of the Museum of Natural History of Funchal, Mr Patrick Piguet, Director of Heritage of the Oceanographic Institute.
Funchal. 5 September 2017. Tribute to the navigator Prince, Albert 1st of Monaco, pioneer of modern oceanography.
Setting up the exhibition. Prof. Manuel Biscoito, Curator of the Museum of Natural History of Funchal © P.Piguet, Oceanographic Institute.
Overview of the exhibition: panels and related documents in the display cases © P.Piguet. Oceanographic Institute.
Paintings by Louis Tinayre (1861-1942), artist-painter during Prince Albert 1st's campaigns, illustrate scenes of the campaigns and the beauty of Madeira's landscapes © P.Piguet. Oceanographic Institute.
Outside the Municipal Museum of Funchal, where the exhibition took place © P.Piguet. Oceanographic Institute, Prince Albert 1st, of Monaco Foundation.
The exhibition A Prince explorer, Albert 1st of Monaco on the discovery of Madeira was presented at the Museum of Natural History of Funchal from September 2017 to January 2018.
The exhibition, totally financed by Monaco Explorations, was imagined by the Princely Palace of Monaco Archives and Library (Mr Thomas Fouilleron, Director, and Mr Thomas Blanchy, Administrator) hand-in-hand with Mrs Jacqueline Carpine-Lancre (Responsible for Historical Research for the Princely Palace), in coordination with the Oceanographic Institute (Mr Patrick Piguet, Director of Heritage and Mrs Valérie Pisani, Responsible for Artistic Collections), the Principality of Monaco’s Audiovisual Archives Association(Mr Vincent Vatrican), the Museum of Natural History of Funchal (Prof. Manuel Biscoito and Mr Juan Silva, Curators) andMadeira Regional Archives (Mrs Maria Paredes, Curator).
Albert 1st of Monaco and the archipelago of Madeira
Albert 1st of Monaco’s history with Madeira began on 28 February 1879, when he stopped off at Funchal for the first time, on-board his schooner, Hirondelle. It was during this trip that he became acquainted with Alice Heine (1857-1925), who would become his second wife in 1889. Between 1897 and 1912, six of Prince Albert 1st‘s oceanographic campaigns took in the archipelago of Madeira (Desertas, Porto Santo, Selvagens), on three successive sailing vessels: Princesse-Alice in 1897, the second Princesse-Alice in 1901, 1904 and 1905, the second Hirondelle in 1911 and 1912. Almost one hundred “Madeira” stations would be marked on the expedition itinerary maps, out of the 3,698 taken in during the 28 oceanographic campaigns between 1885 and 1915.
“Adventurous campaigns, difficult expeditions, hazardous navigation have always tempted me; and, this is why, in response to these savage islands where only wild goats, seals and marine birds lived; in response to the poetry which surrounded this virtually virgin domain in the white belt created by the Ocean’s waves, I felt ardently attracted.”
Hirondelle II, campaign 1912: last stop-off on Madeira...
Grande Desertas viewed from the summit of Ilhéu Chão. Hirondelle II campaign, 1912 ©Louis Gain. Oceanographic Museum of Monaco Collections
Hirondelle IIin Funchal Bay. Madeira. 1912 campaign © Louis Gain. Oceanographic Museum of Monaco Collections.
Carriage station, Funchal, 30 July 1912. Hirondelle II campaign. © Louis Gain. Oceanographic Museum of Monaco Collections
Grande Desertas viewed from the sea. Hirondelle II campaign, 1912 © Louis Gain. Oceanographic Museum of Monaco Collections
Louis Tinayre finishes his climb to the top of Grande Desertas. In the background Ilhéu Chão. Hirondelle II campaign, 1912 © Louis Gain. Oceanographic Museum of Monaco Collections.
Grande Desertas viewed from an Ilhéu Chão beach. Hirondelle II campaign, 1912 © Louis Gain. Oceanographic Museum of Monaco Collections.
Grande Desertas, view over the South-West. The person is holding a long pole which helps move around on the cliffs and rocks. Hirondelle II campaign, 1912 © Louis Gain. Oceanographic Museum of Monaco Collections
29 July 1912. Hirondelle II anchored in Funchal Bay © Louis Gain. Oceanographic Museum of Monaco Collections.
Motor launch and rowing boat. Hirondelle II campaign, 1912. Madeira © Louis Gain. Oceanographic Museum of Monaco Collections.
Grande Desertas. Track leading up to the summit. Albert 1st is second on the left. Hirondelle II campaign, 1912. © Louis Gain. Oceanographic Museum of Monaco Collections.
Landing on Grande Desertas. Prince Albert 1st is the 4th person, with the white hat, on the left. Hirondelle II campaign, 1912 © Louis Gain. Oceanographic Museum of Monaco Collections.
30 July 1912, Funchal. Mules in the port area. Hirondelle II campaign. © Louis Gain. Oceanographic Museum of Monaco Collections.
Grande Desertas. Prince Albert 1st of Monaco observes the fauna and the landscape through binoculars. Hirondelle II campaign, 1912 © Louis Gain. Oceanographic Museum of Monaco Collections.
Funchal port. Hirondelle II campaign, 1912 © Louis Gain. Oceanographic Museum of Monaco Collections
Grande Desertas. Among volcanic tuffs. Hirondelle II campaign, 1912 © Louis Gain. Oceanographic Museum of Monaco Collections
Grande Desertas. Camp close to the summit. On the left, Louis Gain, in the centre Louis Tinayre. Hirondelle II campaign, 1912 ©Louis Gain. Oceanographic Museum of Monaco Collections.
30 July 1912, Funchal. Rushes for making chairs. Hirondelle II campaign. © Louis Gain. Oceanographic Museum of Monaco Collections.
30 July 1912, Funchal. A street in the poor area. Hirondelle II campaign. © Louis Gain. Oceanographic Museum of Monaco Collections.
An intense scientific programme
Following on from intense preparation between April and July 2017, the Madeira mission took place from 19 August to 11 September 2017 on-board the Yersin for 24 days and comprised
- 2 days of logistics preparation on Madeira (19 and 20 August),
- 19 days of operations on Madeira (21 August to 8 September),
- 3 days of sailing and operations on the Selvagens (9 to 11 September). The Monaco Explorations’ team then continued its route on-board the Yersin towards the second objective planned in Macaronesia from 15 September to 3 October: the Cabo Verde Mission 2017.
Operations conducted on Madeira
The operations conducted on-site on Madeira and the Selvagens (Savage Islands) mainly focused on local projects related to Monaco’s key themes and its commitment on an international level for sustainable Ocean management: the Marine Protected Areas and protecting megafauna and biodiversity.
These actions, initiated and carried out by local scientists and local players, benefited from Monaco Explorations’ support, support delivered in various forms: sea resources and logistics, analyses, provision of scientific equipment, image capture, etc. Four key operations were undertaken, mainly around the North Coast of Madeira and the Desertas Islands.
Image taken from the travelling exhibition on the monk seal proposed by the Secretariat for the Environment and Natural Resources of the Autonomous Region of Madeira and the IFCN. The purpose of this exhibition, financed by Monaco Explorations and created by IFCN teams, in particular Mrs Isabel Freitas, is to travel around Madeira's schools and town halls to heighten children and the population's awareness about this iconic yet endangered species.
Zoom on an endangered species: the Mediterranean monk seal
5 to 7 September 2017: a diplomatic, historic and scientific visit by the Prince.
The work undertaken on this iconic species was one of the highlights of the Madeira 2017 mission. Several sequences took place between 21 August and 7 September. The monk seal, a critically-endangered species, iconic to the Madeira archipelago with a population of some forty-odd individuals, is part of the Principality’s priority conservation programmes in particular through projects supported and financed by the Prince Albert II Foundation. On Madeira, several organizations are involved in the local conservation programme, in particular the IFCN and the Whale Museum. The IFCN is the supervisor for the programme dedicated to the monk seal for the Madeira archipelago, which was launched back in 1998.
The various sequences dedicated to the monk seal during the mission:
- on-site reconnaissance 21 and 22 August,
- veterinary workshop 23 August,
- inventory of monk seal habitats on the North Coast of Madeira and the Desertas from 28 to 31 August,
- monk seal image shooting from 4 to 7 September,
- expert workshop on monk seal conservation on 5 September,
- review in the presence of the Sovereign on 6 September,
- visit of the Sovereign to Grande Desertas island on 6 and 7 September to meet monk seal protection and conservation players and to observe in situ.
The international Mediterranean monk seal experts together with H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco on 6 September 2017 © F. Buyle. Monaco Explorations.
5 to 7 September 2017: a diplomatic, historic and scientific visit by the Prince.
Participants at the workshop on 6 September 2017: Moderator: Dr Paulo Oliveira (Vice-President of the IFCN) – Participants – Mrs Rosa Pires (Head of the monk seal project for the IFCN), Dr Luis Freitas (Marine biologist – Director of the Science Department, Museu da Baleia (Whale Museum) – Madeira), Mr Panos Dendrinos (PhD Biologist, President of the Board MOm/Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal, Greece), Spyros Kotomatas (Leader of the Living Cyclades project, WWF Greece), Mr Joan Gonzalvo (Head of the Ionian Dolphin Project, Tethys Research Institute, Italy), Mr Harun Guçlusoy (Institute of Marine Science and Technology, Turkey), Mr Pablo Fernandez de Larrinoa (Head of the NGO CBD Habitats, Spain), Mr Philippe Gaubert (ISEM (Institute of Evolutionary Sciences) Montpellier, France, University of Montpellier, Leader of the “Monk Seal genetics” project supported by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation). Guest: Dr Raquel Vasconcelos (CIBIO-Inbio, University of Porto, Portugal). H.E. Mr Bernard Fautrier, Dr Philippe Mondielli, Miss Auriane Pertuisot from the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Mr Robert Calcagno and Mr Pierre Gilles from the Oceanographic Institute and Dr Enric Sala from the Pristine Seas project, USA were also present during the experts’ review of the work for the Prince.
H.S.H. Prince Albert II on a field visit
After having participated in the monk seal workshop review on 6 September 2017, H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco wished to visit the operation site, in the presence of Mr Miguel Filipe Albuquerque, President of the Regional Government of the Autonomous Region of Madeira, and to discover the monk seal’s natural habitat in the Marine Protected Area of the Desertas Islands, accompanied by Mrs Rosa Pires, Head of the monk seal project for the IFCN.
The Prince also climbed the steep slopes of Grande Desertas, as such walking, some 115 years later, in the footsteps of his great-great-grandfather, Albert 1st of Monaco. During this visit, he met with the teams ensuring the protection of the monk seals on the site. The Sovereign left Madeira on the morning of 8 September.
At the initiative of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, a meeting of international monk seal experts was organized on 6 September 2017. This workshop confirmed the critical situation of the species Monachus monachus. It also provided avenues of hope by illustrating the positive results obtained whenever effective, controlled and coordinated protection measures are implemented. The experts were able to pool their approaches to improve the protection of the species. This exchange was pursued on 12 April 2018 at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco during the 2nd Monaco Ocean Week. n this interview from 7 September 2017 , H.E. Mr Bernard Fautrier, Vice-President of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, gives an update on the Principality of Monaco and its Sovereign’s action in this area. The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation is one of the founding members of the Monk Seal Alliance, launched in April 2019 to better coordinate and enhance the actions undertaken by international monk seal experts.
28 to 31 August: Inventory of monk seal habitats
5 to 7 September 2017: a diplomatic, historic and scientific visit by the Prince.
From 28 to 31 August, along with the IFCN team, Mrs Rosa Pires was able to explore several sites along the North Coast of Madeira and the East Coast of the Desertas Islands for the first time ever, to look for grottos with underwater openings. These grottos could host monk seals which would come to rest or to reproduce. This exploration, as such, complemented the inventory drawn up as part of the European project LIFE Madeira Monk Seal Project. Several grottos and recesses were identified and explored but, given their configuration (no beach or beach too limited, no chamber, or chamber too small), they did not appear to be places which seals would visit or use. Close to the town of Seixal, a grotto with a long underwater corridor at a depth of 6 m was detected and listed for exploration during a later mission. A first reconnaissance was carried out on 21 and 22 August in preparation for Prince Albert II of Monaco’s visit on 7 September.
The identification of grottos likely to be inhabited by monk seals begins on the Zodiac. Rosa Pires and one of her collaborators, Sergio Pereira, inspect the cliffs © O. Borde. Monaco Explorations
Grottos are scattered across the great cliffs of Desertas and the North Coast of Madeira but their entrance may be totally underwater © O. Borde. Monaco Explorations
Entrance to a grotto at the foot of a cliff. The internal configuration of these grottos is more or less adapted to the lifestyle of monk seals © O.Borde. Monaco Explorations.
Inside a grotto where monk seals dwell. From left to right: Pierre Gilles, Liz Factor (ME), Rosa Pires (IFCN) and Thierry Apparu (ME). On the right of the photo, we can see a surveillance camera set up to study the behaviour of the seals which visit this type of grotto © O.Borde. Monaco Explorations
Image taken from the surveillance cameras set up in some grottos around Madeira and Grande Desertas. A group of 6 Mediterranean monk seals sleeping in a grotto © IFCN.
Exploring the underwater access to a grotto, comprising a long corridor which can measure over ten metres in length © O.Borde. Monaco Explorations.
Exploring underwater access corridors to grottos also offers an opportunity to shoot photos and videos. In the foreground, Fabrice Schnoller, towed along by an underwater scooter, shoots a 360° VR sequence whilst free-diving © O. Borde. Monaco Explorations
On 7 September 2017, Rosa Pires explains to Prince Albert II how the surveillance cameras work and describes the monk seal habitat in one of the grottos the species visits © F. Buyle. Monaco Explorations.
Drowned monk seal, caught in a net © IFCN
During the second half of the 19th century and at the dawning of the 20th, the monk seal was subjected to intensive "sports-style" hunting in Madeira. Hunters would access the grottos by boat or on foot, along the cliffside © Archive document used with the kind permission of Prof. Manuel Biscoito, Museum of Natural History of Funchal.
During the Monaco Explorations’ mission to Madeira, the monk seal was observed three times:
- From 4 to 7 September, a ME team (Mr Fabrice Schnoller, Mr Olivier Borde, Mr Frédéric Buyle) went to Grande Desertas on-board the Buteo, IFCN’s yacht, and was welcomed by the rangers Mr Lourenço Alves and Mr Clemente Abreu. The team took new pictures and even a world first, a 360° video of these animals. A pregnant female even came up close to the divers.
- When the Prince climbed Grande Desertas on 7 September, two individuals, who were moving around on the water surface, were observed from the summit.
- During the on-site reconnaissance carried out on 21 and 22 August.
Local veterinary training
On 23 August 2017, a training workshop organized by Mrs Rosa Pires (IFCN) and Dr Luis Freitas (Whale Museum) was held as part of the European project LIFE Madeira Monk Seal Project. It focused on training local veterinary surgeons to carry out an autopsy of a monk seal under real conditions. Blood, tissue and organ analyses as well as the observation of the dead animal (injuries or other external and internal signs of lesion), are an opportunity to collect highly important information which is subsequently useful for protecting the species.
The Monaco Explorations’ communication team (Mr Thierry Apparu, Mrs Liz Factor, Mr Olivier Borde, Mr Fabrice Schnoller, Mr Frédéric Buyle) covered this event.
Briefing with Prof. Ursula Siebert, from the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, and Rosa Pires, IFCN, before the animal is dissected © O. Borde. Monaco Explorations.
The animal is dissected in line with very special protocols © O. Borde. Monaco Explorations.
The "Necropsy of a monk seal" workshop took place in the Whale Museum in Caniçal © O.Borde. Monaco Explorations.
Dr Luis Freitas, co-organizer of the workshop and curator of the Whale Museum, interviewed by Thierry Apparu and filmed by Olivier Borde from Monaco Explorations © F. Buyle. Monaco Explorations.
The "Necropsy of a monk seal" workshop in the Whale Museum in Caniçal. 23 August 2017.
24 to 26 August: studying bird/cetacean interactions
Thirty-odd species of cetacean can be found in the waters around Madeira. Whenever these marine mammals feed by cornering their prey on the water surface, marine birds, in particular endemic species, can take advantage of this hunt and, in turn, feed by diving under the water surface. These frequently localized and fleeting interactions have been little documented to date. Their study is of great value for marine mammal and bird conservation.
The scientific programme focused on travelling along the South Coast of Madeira looking for these interactions and on taking photos in order to document them. It was also used for studying the trophic network on the water surface, during the day and at night, by taking samples of the fauna (plankton, fish, cephalopods) for isotopic measurements.
A team at work
The team responsible for observing marine mammal/bird interactions comprised Prof. José Pedro Granadeiro, Group Leader (UL*), Prof. Paulo Catry (UL*), João Morgado (MBC**), Mr Luís Martim Almada Berimbau (MBC**) and Mrs Inês Cunha (MBC**). Dr Luis Freitas (Chief Scientist, MBC**) was involved in programme development. Numerous samples of plankton as well as of fish and of cephalopods were collected. Here, Prof. Granadeiro explains how zooplankton is sampled.
(* UL: University of Lisbon; ** MBC: Museu da Baleia de Caniçal, (Whale Museum) Madeira)
Bulwer's petrel: a heritage species
Bulwer’s petrel, Bulweria bulwerii, is one of Madeira’s heritage birds. This totally black, small-sized bird feeds out at sea on fish and cephalopods. For much of the year, it is found far from coastlines and the continent, except when it groups with others to reproduce. During this period, the islands with their great cliffs located in the archipelago of Madeira provide the perfect habitat. Professor Paulo Catry talks about the dangers it can face and its lifestyle.
Interactions in pictures
Young sperm whale, Physeter macrocephalus, in open water. In the foreground, Fabrice Schnoller shoots a 360° VR video sequence © F. Buyle. Monaco Explorations.
Observing marine birds with binoculars and detecting the presence of cetaceans on the water surface © Olivier Borde. Monaco Explorations.
A Cory's shearwater,Calonectris borealis, takes flight © Olivier Borde. Monaco Explorations.
A common bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, alongside the Zodiac's bow © O.Borde. Monaco Explorations
A pod of spotted dolphins, Stenella frontalis, with a Cory's shearwater flying overhead, Calonectris borealis © O.Borde. Monaco Explorations
The Yersin, the sailing vessel used as a base for operations at sea during the Madeira mission © O.Borde. Monaco Explorations
A pod of short-finned pilot whales surface in front of the Yersin © O.Borde. Monaco Explorations
Underwater encounter with a pod of short-finned pilot whales, Globicephala macrorhynchus © O.Borde. Monaco Explorations
Common tern, Sterna h. Hirundo, observed on the cliffs from the sea © O.Borde. Monaco Explorations.
24 to 26 August 2017: study of sediment in a highly-uncharted area
5 to 7 September 2017: a diplomatic, historic and scientific visit by the Prince.
The submarine ridge which links the main island of Madeira to the Desertas, whose summit is located at 80 m below the surface, hosts incredible, yet highly-uncharted biodiversity along its slopes.
As there was no ROV, this study focused on using a mechanical dredger (or grab) to take sediment samples to subsequently study their nature and the living beings which populated them in the laboratory.
A hidden world reveals its secrets
The team took samples at 21 stations, at depths of 8 to 122 m, on 3 different sites: eastern slope of Ilhéu Chão (a Desertas island), the Desertas-Madeira ridge and the southern slope off Ponta de São Lourenço. A total of 258 invertebrate samples were collected which included several specimens of hard coral, soft coral and black coral. Other major organisms were found during this campaign: maërl (coralline algae) and a fragment of kelp Laminaria sp which could well be the first reporting of this algae around Madeira. The beds of maërl are marine habitats of great importance given their ability to sequester CO2.
Embarking the sediment team and the mechanical sampling dredger (grab) on board the tender © Pedro Vasconcelos. Monaco Explorations.
Wet laboratory on-board the Yersin © Pedro Vasconcelos. Monaco Explorations
Dr Andreia Braga-Henriques and Mrs Ana Nóbrega sort sediment samples © Pedro Vasconcelos. Monaco Explorations.
Maërl samples © Pedro Vasconcelos. Monaco Explorations.
Branch of black coral © Pedro Vasconcelos. Monaco Explorations.
Sorting aquarium. The samples collected are stored here before being conditioned © Pedro Vasconcelos. Monaco Explorations.
Before being stored, each sample is meticulously photographed, numbered and measured. The sample date, place and station number are also noted. Here, we see a sea pen © Pedro Vasconcelos. Monaco Explorations
Each sample is given an initial quick classification and divided into large animal or plant kingdom categories. The species will then be determined precisely in the laboratory © Pedro Vasconcelos. Monaco Explorations.
The samples are stored in formalin or alcohol to be subsequently studied in the Marine Biology Station of Funchal laboratory © Pedro Vasconcelos. Monaco Explorations.
Label translation: this minuscule sea anemone was collected during Monaco Explorations' 2017 mission (EDM 2017), work station n°17 (#17), on the southern slope off Ponta de São Lourenço (PSLourenco) © Pedro Vasconcelos. Monaco Explorations.
Sediment samples reveal the existence of hidden fauna of great beauty hardly visible to the naked eye. Here we see a sea spider © Pedro Vasconcelos. Monaco Explorations.
Small crab found in the sediment © Pedro Vasconcelos. Monaco Explorations.
sediment study in pictures.
The sediment team: a 100% feminine team
— Dr Andreia Braga-Henriques
Postdoctoral researcher and deep-sea coral expert at the MBe Lab/Oceanic Observatory of Madeira – Marine Biology Station of Funchal (EBMF) & Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre (MARE).
— Mrs Ana Nóbrega
Graduate student from the University of Minho, Braga, Portugal – Internship at the Marine Biological Station of Funchal.
— Mrs Elizaveta Akoulina
PhD student from the Federal State Institution “Federal Research Centre “Fundamentals of Biotechnology” of the Russian Academy of Sciences” – Internship at the Marine Biological Station of Funchal.
28 to 31 August: mapping marine habitats to the North of Madeira
Although the South Coast of Madeira is quite well known and studied by scientists, the same does not hold true for the North coast which is difficult to access, characterized by strong currents and frequently turbulent weather conditions. Thanks to ME and to the Yersin, able to sail easily through these harsh conditions, the team of scientists in charge of this mapping was able to enter these rarely-visited areas for the first time ever and conduct unprecedented observations. The report details complementary operations carried out by the team responsible for sediment sampling (22 to 24 August) and the one responsible for mapping (28 to 31 August).
A total of 11 dives each comprising 3 divers were undertaken, 7 on the North Coast of Madeira, 1 south of Ponta de São Lourenço, 3 east of Grande Desertas. Total immersion time of 10.5 hours, at depths of between 12 to 29 metres. 11 new sites were visited, over a linear distance of 8,500 metres. 2 new beds of maërl were discovered at Ponta do Pedregal off Grande Desertas and at Ilhéu de Fora; 42 species of fish were observed, including 2 important species threatened by over-fishing, the dusky grouper, Epinephelus marginatus and the barred hogfish, Bodianus scrofa.
The team responsible for mapping the marine habitats of the North Coast comprised, from left to right on the photo, the following people: Mrs Teresa Mafalda Gonçalves Jardim de Freitas Araújo (Director, EBMF*), Mr Pedro António Nobre Soares Pinto das Neves (CIIMAR-Madeira**), Dr Cláudia Correia da Silva Ribeiro (Ciimar-Madeira**) also assisted by two members from the IFCN, Mrs Rosa Pires and Mr Sergio Pereira.
(*: EBMF ; / Estação de Biologia Marinha do Funchal; ** CIIMAR-Madeira: Centro Interdiciplinar de Investigação Marinha e Ambiental da Madeira)
First assessment from the Head of mission
Pierre Gilles, Monaco Explorations Head of mission, mastermind and coordinator of the scientific activities carried out on Madeira, the Selvagens and on Cabo Verde, is also Project Manager for the Ocean Policy Division of the Oceanographic Institute, Albert 1st, Prince of Monaco Foundation. He provides us with a first assessment after a week of operations on Madeira and shares his impressions with us.
9 to 11 September. The Selvagens: 2nd phase of the Madeira mission
Selvagem Pequena © Pedro Vasconcelos. Monaco Explorations.
The work carried out
Two key operations took place between 8 and 11 September:
Studying the herpetofauna of Selvagem Grande and Selvagem Pequena islands,
General ecology, studying the avifauna, placing rings and recording the overall situation (birds apart from nesters, vegetation, pollution) of these two islands.
Underwater images were also taken off Selvagem Grande and Selvagem Pequena on 9 and 10 September, supervised by Lt. Col. Philippe Rebaudengo. These operations benefited from the very valuable support of the NRP* military ship Douro commanded by the vessel Lieutenant Pedro Carvalho, dispatched on the order of the President of the Republic of Portugal to follow the ME mission to the Selvagens.
*NRP: Navio da República Portuguesa
The Savage Islands
The Selvagens, literally-speaking “savage islands”, are located some 160 km north of Tenerife and 280 km south-south-east of Madeira. This archipelago comprises three main islands: Selvagem Grande, Selvagem Pequena and Fora and 12 islets and rocks. The Selvagens host fifty-odd endemic species, an impressive colony of Cory’s shearwaters, marine birds which were hunted for ever so long for their flesh and their feathers, used for filling mattresses. These islands invite to take in an endless sweep of one-of-a-kind scenescapes, boasting steep, craggy cliffs and deserted heathland. This natural reserve is considered as an ornithological sanctuary as a result of the exceptional nesting conditions found there for marine birds. The herpetological fauna is also outstanding.
From left to right, Dr Frank Zino, Mrs Elizabeth Zino, Mrs Maria Biscoito, Prof. Manuel Biscoito © O. Borde. Monaco Explorations.
Dr Raquel Vasconcelos and Mrs Carolina Santos, responsible for MPAs for the IFCN, examine the different species of lizards on Selvagem Pequena Island © O.Borde. Monaco Explorations.
Setting up traps to capture lizards and tarantulas. From left to right: Dr Raquel Vasconcelos, Mrs Carolina Santos, Mr Sandro Correia, ranger (IFCN) © Pedro Vasconcelos. Monaco Explorations
The scientific team
Dr Raquel Vasconcelos (CIBIO-InBIO, University of Porto), Mrs Carolina Santos, responsible for Marine Protected Areas for the IFCN, Mr Sandro Correia, ranger (IFCN), Prof. Manuel Biscoito (Curator of the Museum of Natural History of Funchal), Dr Frank Zino (doctor and ornithologist) made up the scientific team.
They were supported by the Monaco Explorations’ team for the different field operations.
Herpetology: finding out all about Selvagens' lizards
On 9 and 10 September on Selvagem Pequena, the scientists from the ME team sampled different plants, set arthropod and lizard traps and captured lizard specimens, Teira dugesii and geckos, Tarentola bischoffi, released after each series of measurements was taken. Each specimen was sexed, measured and stripped to extract a small amount of faeces to subsequently study the animal’s diet, closely related, in this island system, to nutritional content from the marine environment, which is generally relayed through birds. The tip of the tail of each lizard and gecko specimen was also stored in a tube containing alcohol for phylogenetic studies. The investigations continued on 11 September on Selvagem Grande.
Science in motion
The work carried out by Dr Raquel Vasconcelos on the Selvagens Islands and afterwards on Cabo Verde resulted in numerous spinoffs. In particular, Raquel Vasconcelos took part in the 3rd Conference on island ecology, evolution and conservation on Réunion Island from 8 to 13 July 2019.
Two scientific publications derived from this work are now available.
General ecology and ornithology: tackling anthropic pollution
Between 9 and 11 September, Dr Frank Zino and his wife Elisabeth, Prof. Manuel Biscoito and his wife Maria carried out different observations on Selvagem Grande and Paquena; birds apart from nesters, vegetation, pollution). They also placed rings on fifty young Cory’s shearwaters, Calonectris borealis. The stomach contents of two Cory’s shearwaters and a white-faced storm petrel, Pelagodroma marina, retrieved via regurgitation, were intended for study at the Marine Biology Station of Funchal, to specifically detect the presence of plastic waste. This anthropic-based waste builds up dangerously on the Selvagem Islands, even though they are far from civilization and from human concentration. In birds in particular, this waste can cause intestinal obstruction.
Other highlights of the mission...
... and some of the players and memorable moments
Presentation to the Sovereign of the exhibition Back to Macaronesia
by Mr Robert Calcagno and Mr Pierre Gilles © Michel Dagnino. Oceanographic Institute.
8 September 2017. Commander Jean Dumarais, captain of the Yersin and ME welcome Madeira sea scouts, along with "monk seal" and "cetacean" advisors Mrs Rosa Pires and Dr Luis Freitas © O.Borde. Monaco Explorations
2 September 2017. The ME team and Mr Pedro Vasconcelos, diving director, film hosts of dusky groupers from the Garajau Reserve © O.Borde. Monaco Explorations.
On-board the Yersin, off the Desertas Islands, from left to right: Dr Miguel Albuquerque, President of the President of the Regional Government of Madeira, H.E. Mr Henrique de Polignac Mascarenhas de Barros, Monaco's Ambassador to Portugal, Prof. Manuel Biscoito, Curator of the Museum of Natural History of Funchal and Mr Paulo Oliveira, Vice-President of the IFCN.
The ME team, from left to right: Mr Pedro Vasconcelos, Mr Thierry Apparu, Mr Fabrice Schnoller, Mr Sergio Pereira, Mrs Rosa Pires, Mr Pierre Gilles, Mr Pedro Neves, Mrs Teresa Mafalda Gonçalves Jardim de Freitas Araújo, Mr Frédéric Buyle, Mrs Liz Factor, Dr Cláudia Correia da Silva Ribeiro
Thanks to Mrs Carolina Santos (IFCN) for her help in organizing this mission
to the Selvagens Islands and to Mr Sandro Correia (IFCN) © Pierre Gilles. Oceanographic Institute.
5 December 2017, Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. The key players of ME's first mission in Macaronesia © M. Dagnino. Oceanographic Institute.
Monaco Explorations wishes to thank everyone who made this mission to Madeira and the Selvagens Islands possible
H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco
The Princely Government of Monaco and in particular the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation,
The Republic of Portugal and the Autonomous Region of Madeira
H.E. Mr Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, President of the Republic of Portugal,
Mr Ireneu Barreto, Representative of the Republic for the Autonomous Region of Madeira,
Mr Miguel Albuquerque, President of the Regional Government of Madeira
Mrs Susana Prada, Regional Secretary for the Environment and Natural Resources,
Mr Paulo Cafôfô, Mayor of Funchal,
The Portuguese Navy, in particular the vessel Lieutenant Pedro Carvalho and the crew of the NRP Douro,
H.E. Mr Henrique de Polignac Mascarenhas de Barros, Monaco’s Ambassador to Portugal,
H.E. Mr Claude Cottalorda, Monaco’s Ambassador to Paris and Mrs Agatha Korczack, Second Secretary,
Prof. Manuel Biscoito, Curator of the Museum of Natural History of Funchal, and his wife Mrs Maria “Zé” Biscoito,
Mrs Manuela Aranha, artist,
Mrs Maria Paredes, Curator of the Regional Archives of Madeira,
Mr Manuel Filipe, President of the Instituto das Florestas e Conservação da Natureza (IFCN), Funchal and the entire IFCN team, Mr Paulo Oliveira, Mrs Dilia Menezes, Mrs Rosa Pires, Mrs Carolina Santos, Mr Sergio Pereira, Mr Jorge Câmara, Mr Marco Camacho, Mr Maurício Paixão, Mr Sandro Correia, Mr Lourenço Alves, Mr Clemente Abreu, Mrs Isabel Freitas,
Dr Frank Zino, ornithologist, and his wife Mrs Elisabeth Zino,
Prof. José Pedro Granadeiro, Prof. Paulo Catry, University of Lisbon,
Dr Andreia Braga-Henriques, Mrs Ana Nobrega, Miss Elizaveta Akoulina, Miss Ana Nobrega, Mrs Teresa Mafalda Gonçalves Jardim de Freitas Araújo, Dr Cláudia Correia da Silva Ribeiro, Mr Pedro António Nobre Soares Pinto das Neves, Marine Biology Station of Funchal,
Dr Ana Nobrega, Dr Luis Freitas, Mr João Morgado, Mr Luís Martim Almada Berimbau, Mrs Inês Cunha, Museu da Baleia, Caniçal,
Dr Raquel Vasconcelos, CIBIO-InBIO, University of Porto,
Dr Aurélien Miralles, Natural History Museum of Paris,
Mr Pedro Vasconcelos, diving director and image maker,
Mr Carlos Pestana Andrade, Centro de Maricultura da Calheta,
Prof. Enric Sala, Pristine Seas, National Geographic,
M. Panos Dendrinos, MOm/Hellenic Society for the Study & Protection of the Monk Seal, Greece, Mr Spyros Kotomatas, Cyclades Life Project Leader, WWF Greece, Mr Joan Gonzalvo, Ionian Dolphin Project, Tethys Research Institute, Mr Harun Guçlusoy, Institute of Marine Sciences and Technology, Turkey, Mr Pablo Fernandez de Larrinoa, CBD Habitats, Spain, Mr Philippe Gaubert,
Mr Pedro Escudero, Mr Pedro Carrolo, Mrs Teresa Telo, Mrs Graça Maria Martins, Buggypower Company in Porto Santo,
Mr Mário Jardim, Madeira Electricity Company,
Mr Antonio Jose Freitas Gomes, Mr David Ricardo Henriques Luis, Mr João Alberto Marques dos Santos Gomes and the sea scout team, Funchal,
Mr Henri Perron, Mr Philippe Tondeur, Mr Jean-Louis Arranz, Mrs Marie Croizier, Mrs Fabienne Guiton, Mrs Giovanna Demichelis, Princely aircraft crew,
Mr François Fiat and his wife Mrs Geneviève Fiat (✝), the Yersin shipowners, Commander Jean Dumarais, Captain and the entire crew of the Yersin,
Mr Thomas Fouilleron, Director of the Princely Palace of Monaco Archives and Library,
Mr Thomas Blanchy, Administrator of the Princely Palace of Monaco Archives and Library,
Mrs Jacqueline Carpine-Lancre, Responsible for Historical Research for the Princely Palace of Monaco,
Mr Vincent Vatrican, Director of Monaco’s Audiovisual Archives Association,
H.E. Mr Bernard Fautrier, Managing Director and Vice-President of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation,
Dr Philippe Mondielli, Scientific Director of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation,
Miss Auriane Pertuisot, Responsible for marine projects, Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation,
Lieutenant-Colonel Philippe Rebaudengo, Aide-de-camp to H.S.H. the Sovereign Prince, Director of diving,
Prof. Yann-Erick Claessens, Dr Olivia Keita-Perse, Centre Hospitalier Princesse Grace, Monaco,
Dr Philippe Afriat, Monaco
Dr Sylvie Dehours, Centre de Consultation Maritime Médicale, Toulouse, France,
Mrs Marie-Catherine Caruso-Ravera, Director of Diplomatic and Consular Relations, Monaco,
Patrice Cellario, Government advisor – Ministry of the Interior, Monaco,
Mrs Isabelle Bonnal, Director of National Education, Youth and Sports, Monaco, Mrs Armelle Borro, Mrs Cécile Mouly,
Mrs Dominique Simon, Assistant to Colonel Bruno Philipponnat,
Alain Binsinger, Mr James Arslan,
Francis Gianni and Mrs Habiba Taouche, International School of Monaco,
Mrs Christine Oberdorff, Mr Mathieu Massuard, Mr Sébastien Decaux, Mr Arnaud Mouillevois, Ushuaïa TV,
Mrs Noémie Olive, Reuters,
Mrs Emilie Rousseau, Mr Sylvain Peroumal, Monaco Info,
Monaco Explorations would also like to thank the teams which came on-board the Yersin or which worked behind the scenes as well as the staff from the Oceanographic Institute who worked to ensure this mission was a success.