Oceana and Blancpain set sail to protect the reefs of the Gulf of Mexico

The iconic watchmaker takes to the high seas once more, this time with Oceana, to chart coral reefs

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Ten months after iconic watchmaker Blancpain announced it would be undertaking the role of the exclusive watch partner of ocean conservation organisation Oceana, the pair have teamed up to launch a two-week expedition through the Gulf of Mexico aimed at documenting the health of the coral reefs in the region. 

On 9 August, the two entities will begin the Project Alacranes expedition to explore two areas of the Gulf known for their abundant wildlife; for 15 days, the expedition will travel through Arrecife Alacranes National Park (Scorpion Reef in English), including an area called Bajos del Norte, charting the coral and investigating the secrets of the reefs that, due to their distance from the coast, remain almost entirely undisturbed from the effects of human activity.

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The brands will work with cutting edge technology that has been little used in Mexican seas during the expedition, with 10 scientists undertaking environmental DNA analysis and photomosaic modeling, which will be used to create 3D maps of the reefs and enable a census of the species that inhabit them or use this area as part of their migratory routes. The use of a sonar called "Fish Hunter PRO" will provide information on the schools of fish, making it possible to establish parameters for monitoring fish stocks of commercial interest, and to create guidelines for the sustainable management of fishery resources.

"Our objective is to collect scientific information that allows us to determine the current status of this Marine Protected Area, and to use this information to promote the changes needed to protect and guarantee the future of this important ecosystem," said Renata Terrazas, Executive Director of Oceana in Mexico at a press conference in July.

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"Despite being a Protected Area, the Scorpion Reef is not exempt from pollution, illegal fishing, and potentially destructive tourism, threats that must be fought," said Terrazas. "In the case of Bajos del Norte, the risk is greater because it has no legal protection."

"The recovery and conservation of marine habitats in Mexico translates into greater economic and social benefits, especially for local fishermen. Adequate protection of these reefs ensures that future generations can enjoy their beauty and resources," stated Miguel Rivas, director of Habitat Campaigns at Oceana.

This is far from the watchmaker's first rodeo in the arena of naval exploration; through its Blancpain Ocean Commitment scheme, the brand has co-financed 20 major scientific expeditions, played a role in extending the surface of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) around the world and presented several award-winning documentary films, underwater photography exhibitions and publications.