– The expedition to study corals in the Red Sea is suspended
It is a blow to the project of the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne. The sailboat rented from a Geneva foundation struck a reef and ran aground at the exit of the Gulf of Aqaba.
The Transnational Red Sea Center (TRSC) had to suspend its first expedition season to study corals in the Red Sea. The Fleur de Passion sailboat, heading for Sudan, was immobilized in Egypt after having run aground out of the Gulf of Aqaba.
At around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, the sailboat struck a reef in the Straits of Tiran, northeast of the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheikh. The ten people on board (four crew members and six Swiss and international scientists), all safe and sound, were taken care of by the Egyptian Navy and transferred to Sharm el-Sheikh.
The 33-meter Swiss sailboat, chartered from the Geneva-based Pacific Foundation, will have to be towed to the Egyptian port so that the damage can be accurately assessed and repairs can be carried out as quickly as possible, the TRSC and the company said in a statement. ‘Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL).
The rest of the expedition remains to be evaluated. It was to take place from the end of July to the end of August along part of the Sudanese coast in partnership with the Red Sea University in Port Sudan.
Several scenarios are currently under study: the first gives hope for a rapid repair of the sailboat allowing it to resume sea and its mission within the time limit set. The second would consist of chartering a replacement boat allowing scientists to complete their first season of navigation.
From 2021 to 2024, the TRSC planned to conduct four expeditions around the entire border of the Red Sea, along its approximately 4,000 km of coastline, each summer for the next four years. This ambition remains unchanged.
Created in 2019 at EPFL, with the support of the Confederation, the TRSC intends to study the corals of the Red Sea, which have been shown to be particularly resistant to global warming due to their particular genetics.
Departing from Seville at the end of April, the Fleur de Passion sailboat arrived on June 10 in Aqaba, where an official ceremony to launch the expedition took place. He then made a stopover in Eilat, where a second series of awareness-raising actions took place, before his departure for Sudan.
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