Aerial surveys and satellite imagery are used by the Khaled Bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, based in the United States. CEC member Dr. Abdulaziz Abuzinada provides this summary of accomplishments.
The Khaled Bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation was established ten years ago by HRH Prince Khaled Bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia. The Foundation focuses its interest on conserving marine environment adopting its main logo "Science Without Borders®".
Scientific research is one of its goals to conserve the environment, biodiversity and natural marine resources which is increasingly becoming a global priority and responsibility.
The Foundation implemented four research missions in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea between 2006-2009 using the M/Y Golden Shadow as a research platform. The research was undertaken to improve understanding of the spatial distribution, size and condition of shallow marine habitats, and to identify options to enhance the conservation and management of the Saudi Arabian coral reef ecosystems.
Following are some of the important achievements of the Foundation:
1. A multispectral aerial survey was made of more than 100,000 hectares of the United States Virgin Islands. Environmental maps of these islands were produced which have been used to improve marine resource management.
2. A multispectral aerial survey was made of the shallow marine habitats of the Seychelles Islands totaling 200,000 hectares aiming to study the average recovery of the coral reef after the serious coral bleaching incident related to the El Nino of 1997-1998
3. A four year research program to survey Saudi Arabian Red Sea coral reefs was concluded successfully. This program was sponsored by the Foundation under the umbrella of Science Without Borders®. Scientists representing various countries from the region participated in four major expeditions during this period. Ecological maps of the region were made and different systems of coral reefs were described along the Saudi Coast making use of the Golden Shadow research ship. This region of the Red Sea represents an important international biogeographical area as it includes a high percent of endemic species, especially fishes, and a number of deferent genera of stony corals.
4. The Foundation started implementing the Global Reef Expedition to survey and map remote coral reefs around the world. Under its "Science Without Borders®" trademark, the scientists of the Living Oceans Foundation will circumnavigate the globe using the research ship Golden Shadow to study the resilience of coral reefs and help many countries with their programs to conserve coral reefs. This program will take five years to finish (2011-2015). The remote coral reef systems will be explored, studied and the biodiversity between them will be compared. Also, during the Global Reef Expedition a unified protocol for making ecological maps will be employed.
5. Another unique project undertaken by the Foundation staff was the production of the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation Atlas of Saudi Arabian Red Sea Marine Habitats.. This will be the first Atlas of its kind making use of satellite imagery and field sensors.
6. Educational programs which the Foundation is conducting throughout the Global Reef Expedition are an excellent example of the Foundation’s efforts to educate teachers and students of the different countries on the importance of coral reefs to humankind.
7. The Foundation is organizing a three day international Symposium on coral reef conservation in the Red Sea (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 08-10 January 2012) celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Foundation.
Prof. Abdulaziz H. Abuzinada, Member, Board of Directors, Khaled Bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, [email protected]