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.

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