Bridging Science & Diplomacy for the Future of Corals
The Transnational Red Sea Center is a scientific research center created in 2019 at the Ecole Polytechnique fédérale in Lausanne (EPFL) with the official support of the Swiss Foreign Ministry. An independent and not-for-profit organization, the Center capitalizes on Switzerland’s neutrality, its longstanding tradition of promoting dialogue and its reputation for scientific excellence in order to bridge science and diplomacy for the future of corals. In the Red Sea and beyond.
Over the past 30 years, 50% of corals have disappeared globally due to global warming, pollution, and other destructive human activities, and only 10% are expected to survive past 2050. The demise of coral reefs means the loss of the planet’s most diverse ecosystems and poses a major threat for the stability of many regions around the globe, where hundreds of millions of people rely on these fragile ecosystems for their existence. But there is hope. Recent scientific studies have shown that corals in the northern Red Sea are extremely resistant to rising water temperatures, making the Red Sea a de facto unique coral refuge on Earth. Hence the urgent need to protect theses reefs from other sources of destruction through transnational collaboration.
Unite scientists in the Red Sea countries and drive collaborations to push further our understanding of the biological mechanisms by which the Red Sea corals demonstrate an extraordinary resistance to climate change that makes them unique compared to other coral reefs
Promote environmental protection policies for the Red Sea coral ecosystem by engaging public and private actors through scientific, educational and cultural collaboration at the regional level
Pave the way for future technological applications potentially enabling to rehabilitate other reefs worldwide
Establish the first ever Red Sea-wide coral ecosystem and biodiversity ‘baseline’
Quantitatively determine the resilience of key coral species through systematic thermal stress testing
Assess the environmental impact of socio-economic development and identify hotspots of environmental stress – today and in the future – along the shores of the Red Sea
Systematically sample for water quality and microplastics pollution levels
Systematically sample and analyze coral and environmental DNA (eDNA) to establish a deeper understanding of the coral reef structure (i.e., Seascape Genomics) – and develop cutting-edge tools for determination of biodiversity.
The Transnational Red Sea Center is planning a series of expeditions on board the Swiss sailboat Fleur de Passion, as the first phase of its long-term vision. The 33-meter long ketch will be the logistics platform for scientific programs and flagship for outreach activities at the regional and global level. These expeditions are scheduled to start in July 2021 and take place over the Summer of 2021-2024, when the water temperature in the region is at its highest. Their ambition is to progressively cover the ca. 4’500 km coastline of the Red Sea stretching over seven countries: Egypt, Eritrea, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen.
The logistical platform
The 33-meter long Swiss sailboat Fleur de Passion will be the logistical platform of the Red Sea expedition 2021-2024. The boat is a former WWII German Navy minesweeper built in 1941 in Bremen, seized by the French Navy as war compensation then converted into a sailboat in the mid-70s. Entirely renovated from 2003 to 2009 by the Geneva-based not-for-profit Fondation Pacifique, she has since then been the logistics platform and flagship for multidisciplinary oceanographic expeditions including missions in the Red Sea (2011) and on the Great Barrier Reef (2017). Read more on: fondationpacifique.org