On his return from Los Angeles, California, where he had been attending the annual Princess Grace Foundation’s Gala, Prince Albert stopped off in Martinique on Friday, October 27, to call on the teams of Monaco Explorations.
On board the Yersin research vessel, the Sovereign visited the Prêcheur Territorial Marine Reserve to pay tribute to Albert Falco, in the presence of his widow, Maryvonne, and daughters.
Albert Falco, Commander of the Calypso, was the diving companion of Jacques-Yves Cousteau and made a major contribution to research of the Martinique seabed.
The Prince was welcomed on the pontoon of the Abymes by young children of the Prêcheur’s school who had visited the Yersin the day before. HSH proceeded with the naming ceremony, alongside Prêcheur’s prefect Franck Roubine and mayor Marcellin Nadeau, of the reserve which now bears the name Albert Falco.
Later in the day, a report was presented on the Sargassum research mission. Thomas Changeux and Sandrine Ruitton, at the head of the 8-member team, spent three weeks on board the Yersin studying these invasive brown algae.
When washed up on shore, Sargasso seaweed destroys coastal life and creates many health problems.
In the evening, Monaco’s chef Marcel Ravin was in charge of the extraordinary cocktail reception for Prince Albert and 80 guests at the Simon Hotel. Originally from Diamant, a town in south-western Martinique, Chef Ravin is the first West Indian chef to earn a prestigious Michelin star in 2015 for the restaurant The Blue Bay, which opened in 2005 along with the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort.
A year ago, the restaurant set up Mr Goodfish guidelines to respect marine resources by using a list that indicates recommended species for each season. Another example of this commitment is not using bluefin tuna, a protected species. The Chef also works with the start-up Terre de Monaco founded by Jessica Sbaraglia, who creates urban organic gardens such as the one at the Monte-Carlo Bay.
The Monaco Explorations campaign began on July 27, as the Yersin left the Principality on its long journey. Monaco’s last scientific sea exploration dates back 120 years to the monarch’s great-great-grandfather, Prince Albert I of Monaco.
Monaco Explorations is a three-year programme (2017-2020) that will travel around the world studying marine biodiversity, setting up protection programmes, and implementing an intense media campaign to raise awareness of the problems facing our oceans and promote a closer relationship between humanity and the sea.
The mission addresses a major concern of the West Indian population: the washing ashore of massive quantities of sargassum, a recurrent problem since 2011 with catastrophic consequences on fauna, flora, and human health and activities.