Prince Albert II of Monaco on his ocean-probing Monaco Explorations
Monaco’s monarch on his country’s new oceanexploration initiative and what he hopes it will accomplish
Floating islands of plastic. Water temperatures rising. Acidification increasing. Rampant overfishing. The world’s oceans are in a dire state. And one of the bestknown royals in the world is doing something about it. Initiated by Prince Albert II of Monaco, the recently launched Monaco Explorations expedition set sail in July on a three-year, roundthe-world journey to conduct multidisciplinary scientific research in nine remote ocean areas. With a goal of “reconnecting humanity to the sea,” the scientists and crew will circumnavigate the globe aboard the Yersin, a 76-metre “clean ship” — a vessel that conforms to strict emissions regulations — outfitted with six scientific laboratories. If you’re surprised that the health of the world’s oceans is of concern to the prince, you shouldn’t be. After all, the monarch of the tiny principality on the shores of the Mediterranean not only grew up with the sea on his doorstep but also inherited an interest in its health from his great-grandfather, Prince Albert I of Monaco, considered to be one of the fathers of oceanography. Here, the prince discusses that family legacy, Monaco’s history of conservation and how the Monaco Explorations expedition will help study and maintain the health of the world’s oceans.
On how his family’s legacy inspired Monaco Explorations
The vision and legacy of my great-grandfather, Prince Albert I of Monaco, are still very much with us in Monaco today. His articles, books and correspondences were well known, but his journal, which we recently rediscovered, isn’t. Reading his accounts and ideas from his different expeditions was fascinating. More than 100 years ago he was one of the first, to my knowledge, to talk about the importance of protecting terrestrial and marine species and of establishing parks and reserves at sea or on land. His journal showed how there was a real concern for what was then known not as “the environment” but as nature in general. Although he wasn’t scientifically trained, he was close to scientists and worked with them. He also loved to explore and had a curious mind. So that’s a strong legacy.
On how growing up in Monaco shaped his outlook about the world’s oceans
Growing up in a Mediterranean country, you tend to look out at sea and interact with it because it’s right there at your doorstep. I think that — along with the creation of my foundation [ Established in 2006, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation is dedicated to the protection of the environment and the promotion of sustainable development on a global scale. —ed.] — made me more interested in environmental
Prince Albert II of Monaco signs the #Myoceanpledge, a promise to protect UNESCO World Heritage marine sites, during his visit to UN headquarters in New York in June.