Our four-year fieldwork campaign in Saudi Arabian coastal waters (2006-2009) was a collaborative research effort embracing the Foundation’s Science Without Borders® Program. An interdisciplinary team of international research scientists utilized the M/Y Golden Shadow to assess the coral reef resources of the Saudi Arabian Red Sea coastline. Our first destination in the Red Sea was the Farasan Islands in 2006, followed by Ras Al-Qasabah in 2007, Al Wajh and Yanbu in 2008, and Farasan Bank in 2009. The primary purpose of the expeditions were to enhance and expand upon existing marine resource habitat maps significantly and to identify areas of rich biodiversity for management considerations.
Throughout the Red Sea campaign, we combined sophisticated remote sensing technologies (satellite and aircraft sensors) with field surveys to generate habitat maps of coral reefs. This raw data would later be processed into GIS maps of shallow-water marine habitats of the Saudi Arabian Red Sea and published in our Red Sea Atlas and World Reef Map. These resulting high-resolution maps create a world of possibilities for use in coastal zone management, resource monitoring, and future scientific research.
Red Sea Atlas
The results of our four years of surveys and mapping efforts in the Red Sea are published in Atlas of Saudi Arabian Marine Habitats, the first-ever atlas of the Red Sea marine habitats of offshore coral reefs. It is available for download in both English and Arabic.
Return to the Red Sea
Thirteen years after our original expedition to the Red Sea, the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation returned to the Ras Al-Qasabah region of the northern Saudi Arabian Red Sea. Our Chief Scientist, Dr. Sam Purkis, embarked on this OceanX research mission in 2020 to extend our mapping of the shallow-water reefs into the abyssal depths of the Northern Red Sea.
This work has been facilitated by a six-week joint expedition aboard the inaugural science mission of OceanXplorer, an 87 m research vessel furnished with state-of-the-art tools for seabed mapping, including a pair of custom Triton manned submersibles, each with a diving depth of over 1,000 m, plus a 6,000 m rated remotely operated vehicle (ROV). The unique capacity of OceanXplorer combined with the uncharted deeps of the Northern Red Sea led to new discoveries and revealed the intricacies of reef building offshore.