by Estelle Arielle Bouchet
This desire to push back the limits of what is possible, and also to offer to the greatest number of people an underwater world that is as majestic as it is threatened, is the legacy of Prince Albert I, nicknamed the «Prince of the Seas» and founder of the Oceanographic Institute, Albert I, Prince of Monaco Foundation.
Robert Calcagno, CEO,
Oceanographic Museum, Monaco.
Estelle Arielle Bouchet: In what way does the exhibition "Immersion" aim to sensitize the public to the fragile ecosystem of our Oceans?
Robert Calcagno: Since July 18, the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco has welcomed a very
special guest : the Great Barrier Reef. One of the seven natural wonders of the world, is revealed in the IMMERSION exhibition. A multimedia installation which offers visitors the opportunity to experience a dive to meet the iconic species that inhabit the largest coral ecosystem on the planet. IMMERSION is not just an exhibition ; it is a real immersive, interactive and collective experience, designed to raise awareness for the need to preserve our blue planet and its incredible biodiversity.
While they cover only 0.2% of the oceans, coral reefs are home to 30% of marine biodiversity.
These oases of life, essential to humankind in many ways, are nevertheless threatened on a
massive scale. The Oceanographic Museum invites as many people as possible to be
privileged witnesses of the beauty and fragility of these ecosystems, on an original journey
between fiction, emotion and reality. This innovative concept was conceived by the
Oceanographic Museum in order to offer an experience that combines the spectacular and the engaging, with an enhanced level of interaction and a unique sense of immersion. To
give life to this underwater odyssey, the most advanced technologies are used to further the
Museum’s mission of mediation: to create a link between humankind and an ecosystem that is generally inaccessible to it.
This desire to push back the limits of what is possible, and also to offer to the greatest
number of people an underwater world that is as majestic as it is threatened, is the legacy of Prince Albert I, nicknamed the «Prince of the Seas» and founder of the Oceanographic Institute, Albert I, Prince of Monaco Foundation.
Estelle Arielle Bouchet: Does such a production-with around 2 millions euros investment-illustrate the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco vocation and will to firmly engage the Principality on the defense of the Oceans and the Environment?
Robert Calcagno: The Principality has been committed to protecting the environment for
decades. Monaco and different major institutions involved in the understanding and protection of the oceans (Oceanographic Institute, Scientific Centre of Monaco, Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Monaco Explorations) have joined forces to raise public awareness and take action to ensure the survival of coral reefs. High-level scientific research, organisation of conferences, political influence, media outreach, funding of
NGO projects… The future of coral reefs depends on a combination of different forms and scales of action, and the Monaco Team is working on all fronts. Moreover, Monaco supported the preparation by the IPCC of the Special report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing
Climate, approved in September 2019. This scientific consensus has been compiled by
hundreds of international scientists and validated by States. It establishes the alarming
diagnosis of the shock imposed on the ocean by global warming, and serves as a reference on
which international mobilisation must be based. Since mid-2018, Monaco has been co-chairing the International Coral Reef Initiative,an informal partnership between States and organisations aimed at preserving coral reefs and related ecosystems (mangroves and seagrass beds) around the world.
This co-presidency is shared with Australia and Indonesia. In 2017, Monaco had already
initiated the Coral Reef Life Declaration, to alert the international community to the importance and the urgent need to protect coral reefs.