His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco went for a dive in Colombia at Malpelo after a week-long trip to the South American country. This was His Serene Highness’s first trip to Colombia.
The Sovereign Prince of Monaco dived at the end of his trip after visiting and having lunch with scientists involved with Monaco Explorations who are working on the exploration vessel Yersin. He dove off the coast of Malpelo with Sandra Bessudo, Pierre Frolla, Fred Buyle, Olivier Borde, and Robert Calcagno. The purpose of the dive was to tag hammerhead sharks. Monaco Explorations explained on their Facebook, “Placing an acoustic tag on the endangered sharks provides data about their migratory patterns – this information is essential in demonstrating a need for increased protection.”
The Prince is told about the dive’s logistics and goals. Photo: Monaco Explorations/Facebook
The water during the dive was rough, and they had problems with visibility; however, the dive, reported Monaco Explorations, was “successful anyhow.”
He was onboard the Monaco Explorations vessel from 20-22 March where he took part in dives each day with the Fundación Malpelo team. He assisted in setting up the baited cameras (with the Megafauna Consortium group from University of Montpellier) and the Invemar Colombia team in their use of the Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) to identify species. Additionally, he was able to hear from the teams regarding their research and fieldwork.
Upon his arrival on 18 March, he was received by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in the city of Cartagena. The Prince praised the President and the Colombian government for their work in restoring peace in their country. President Santos received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016 for his efforts. Several agreements were also signed between Colombia and Monaco during the trip regarding environmental protection and economics.
HSH Prince Albert II (left) accompanies freediver Fred Buyle as he places acoustic tags on Hammerhead sharks in Malpelo. Photo credit: Olivier Borde for Monaco Explorations
Additionally, Prince Albert attended a conference on ocean acidification, and he visited the archaeological site of the “Ciudad Perdida,” which was discovered in 1972. According to the Prince’s Palace, the archaeological site is a unique place ” which is also a natural reserve with 400.000 acres where native tribes live.”
Left to Right: Fred Buyle, Sandra Bessudo, HSH Prince Albert II, Pierre Frolla, Robert Calcagno
Photo credit: Olivier Borde for Monaco Explorations
Monaco Explorations was initiated by Prince Albert with the full support of Monaco’s government. It is a “three-year campaign in which the Principality makes scientific research at sea available to dozens of researchers from around the world,” according to the organisation. In 2017, they carried out explorations in Macaronesia and the Cabo Verde islands. They also studied “the effects of Sargassum, a brown algae that exists in large masses in the sea and causes damage when it washes ashore” mostly in the Caribbean.
They explained to Royal Central, “The campaign will follow a longitudinal route along the tropics, stopping to conduct research in mostly remote areas. The focus on these stops will include enlarging Marine Protected Areas, studying biodiversity and mega fauna, marking for data collection, extracting environmental DNA, and developing a deeper understanding of the chemical and biological effects of global warming and other stressors on the seas.
“Monaco Explorations aims to enable scientific research that will increase our understanding of the seas and in turn provide a stronger basis for political action regarding conservation, to raise public awareness regarding the many threats facing the seas, and to enhance the Principalities long-existing commitment to environmental awareness, advocacy, and protection.”
The Monaco Explorations team arrived in Malpelo on 15 March, and their mission there ends on 30 March. They are working in collaboration with Invemar Colombia, Fundación Malpelo, MigraMar, Zoological Society of London, and the Megafauna Consortium group from the University of Montpellier.
“These teams are filtering the water for Environmental DNA, setting underwater cameras to identify the species here, and tagging the sharks to understand their migratory patterns to be able to provide data for enlarged marine protected areas,” explained Monaco Explorations to Royal Central.
The Prince of Monaco travelled with the Monaco based International Peace And Sports Association, which had organised a football match where Colombian children took part in a game. This was sponsored by Didier Drogba, a football player from the Ivory Coast who plays for the American club, Phoenix Rising.
The Prince’s trip to Colombia began on the same day that he unveiled a plaque in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, honouring the birth of the first American born Princess of Monaco, Alice, who married Prince Albert I of Monaco in 1889.