Swiss luxury watchmaker IWC is sponsoring a new expedition by the Cousteau Society to the coral reefs of the Red Sea. It’s the first time the Society, founded in 1974 by the late famed oceanologist Jacques Cousteau and supported by membership fees and donations, has taken a partner. The trip is also actively supported by UNESCO, the natural and human sciences organization of the United Nations.
The expedition, now underway, comes 50 years after the first of Cousteau’s own three expeditions to the underwater world of the Red Sea, which he documented in several films, including The Silent World (the first documentary to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival) and World Without Sun, which won an Oscar.
A new research vessel called Alcyone—successor to Cousteau’s ship, Calypso—is being used. Cousteau’s archives, consisting of hundreds of photographs and films as well as much data, will be used by the Society’s team of marine biologists, doctors, and other scientists. All excellent divers, they will evaluate the current condition of the reefs and look at environmental management and sustainable development of the region. In addition to Alcyone’s crew of 12, there are 45 participating specialists from Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Jordan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen.
“This expedition wouldn’t have been possible without the substantial commitment of IWC,” said Francine Cousteau at the Monaco Yacht Club. “We’re very pleased to have found a partner who suits us ideally.”
Georges Kern, IWC’s chief executive officer, agreed. The two partners, he said “share the same passionate dedication to their objectives and hold identical fundamental values, including the principle of ‘sustainability.’” The Cousteau Society applies that through its commitment to the attractions of nature, he said, and IWC through its manufacture of fine watches that can be passed from generation to generation. “We’re very pleased to support an expedition that is expected to produce enlightening discoveries,” said Kern.