If you are a member of the Saudi royal family with seemingly untapped riches thanks to the industrialized world's dependence on oil, how do you spend your sizable wealth? Some choose to invest in luxury developments, others choose to lead an opulent lifestyle, while others choose to invest in world markets. But one has chosen to invest in coral reefs.
The Living Oceans Foundation, an NGO based in Landover, Maryland (U.S.), was founded in 2000 and supported by Saudi Arabian Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz who was first fascinated by undersea life as a boy studying sea fossils in the desert. Becoming an avid scuba diver in later years fueled his appreciation for the need to preserve the seas for future generations.
The foundation operates under the vision of Science without Borders (r) - a concept whereby scientists from different countries are brought together to study marine ecosystems and work hand in hand to solve the challenges that face our oceans, recognizing that what impacts one part of the world impacts the entire planet. Nature does not recognize political borders - neither should science.
The foundation is preparing for an extensive study of the world's coral reefs beginning in 2010, having secured interest from some of the world's leading sites for coral reefs including Australia, the Bahamas, Colombia, U.S. Virgin Islands, Fiji, Indonesia, Palau, Madagascar and others. Through the Royal Prince's financial support, the foundation is assembling an impressive array of support equipment including a 220-foot research vessel complete with seaplane and an extensive Geographic Information System database and Compact Airborne Spectrographic Imager for mapping coral reefs.
Let's wish the Living Oceans Foundation success not only with their upcoming coral reef research project but with the concept of Science without Borders. We are all wrestling with understanding the impact of and accepting a global economy; we must also add the importance of a global view to scientific research that benefits the planet.
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