Wednesday, May 23, 2018

24/05/2018: The Athens of the North: Monaco Blue Initiative comes to Edinburgh

As told by Professor David Munro, Former Director of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society

The reason why delegates gathered in Edinburgh to attend the 2018 Monaco Blue oceans conference can be traced back to a chance encounter during the last week of July 1898 when two ships coincidentally set anchor side-by-side in the port of Tromsø in northern Norway.

The first ship to arrive was the Princess Alice II, the research vessel of the ‘sailor prince’ HSH Prince Albert I of Monaco, who was making his first voyage northwards into Arctic waters to undertake oceanographical research. The second ship, owned by the thread-making magnate Andrew Coats from Paisley in Scotland, was the private yacht Blencathra, heading southwards after a sporting voyage to Novaya Zemlaya.

On board this ship was the Scottish naturalist, oceanographer and polar explorer William Speirs Bruce who had been offered the opportunity to undertake air and sea observations on this his third voyage into polar waters.

Bruce could not believe his good fortune when the Prince invited him to join his northern cruise to Svalbard.

This, as they say, was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, but not only that, it was the beginning of a fruitful scientific collaboration that was to last the rest of their lives. They made several subsequent visits to Svalbard together and the Prince supported Bruce’s 1902-04 Scottish National Antarctic Expedition by supplying scientific instruments to assist with oceanographical studies in the South Atlantic.

Attracted to Edinburgh as a student in 1887 by the opportunity to study at the marine laboratory on the Firth of Forth and to work on the scientific data brought back to Edinburgh by the Challenger Expedition (1872-75), Bruce was eventually to establish his Scottish Oceanographical Laboratory at Surgeons’ Hall in Edinburgh, a facility that was officially opened by Prince Albert I in January 1907.

Read the full article in the International Aquafeed online edition, HERE.

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