Yesterday the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco held a prestigious event honoring two scientists who have dedicated their lives to unlock the mysteries of the oceans and their important connection to life on earth. The Grand Medal distinction was created during the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Prince Albert 1er in 1948, to honour the career, specific work or worldwide exceptional discovery in the oceanographic domain. The Medal in golden bronze bears the name of the recipient and the mention “Prix Manley Bendall” who was its creator, and it symbolizes the heritage transmitted by Prince Albert 1er and confirms the role of the Oceanographic Institute as a mediator to the service of the oceans.
Prince Albert 1er was known as the Navigator Prince, a passionate for ocean exploration that in 1870 at the young age of 22 organized several scientific oceanographic and cartographic expeditions accompanied by several scientists. He founded Oceanographic Institute in Paris and in 1889 the same institution in Monaco, and arranged the construction of the Oceanographic Museum. At its inauguration he declared, “Here gentlemen, as you can see, from the Monegasque land has emerged a proud temple dedicated to the new divinity that reigns over the intelligences.”
The prize ceremony this year was animated by no other than Catherine Chabaud, first woman to carry out a sailing tour of the world in solitaire without scales, during the Vendee Globe 96-97. A journalist, this passionate navigator, has invested herself in the protection of the oceans, having completed thirteen Atlantic crossings. The selected scientists received the Medal from the hands of HSH Prince Albert II, who faithfully continues the work of his grandfather with passion and dedication. Pierre Casiraghi, nephew of HSH Prince Albert and an expert navigator was by his side to demonstrate the support of the next generation.
Dr Andrew Bakun from Washington State, who is professor of marine biology at the University of Miami and an expert in the field of science of the sea with more than 50 years of experience in national and international organizations, received the Prince Albert 1er Grand Medal for 2011. Curious about the world he questions himself over the physical and biological interactions into the oceans and the consequences of climate variations over ecosystems and marine populations.
Dr Gilles Boeuf, professor at the University of Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris and since 2009 he is President of the Natural History National Museum. Mr Boeuf received the Prince Albert 1er Medal for 2012. Physiologist and endocrinologist, he has made substantial discoveries useful to aquaculture and medicine. He is an accomplished author of more than 400 publications.
In receiving their distinctions both scientists made brief interesting presentations on their work, and we learned that only 7% of the ocean floor and about a half a percent of the ocean itself has been explored, and even less in the deep ocean, partly because it is hard to get to. And it is in the deepest, darkest parts of the oceans are ecosystems with more diversity than a tropical rainforest. Their message cantered on conservation, ocean research and the important of preserving aquatic life around the world, inspiring a passion within the next generation of scientists, researchers and marine biologists on their path toward a new era of conservation instead of careless exploitation, and a sense of humility vis-à-vis the oceans.