Nature Middle East | House of Wisdom

New KAUST expedition to explore the Red Sea

<img alt=“Red_sea_satellite.jpg” align=right src=“http://blogs.nature.com/houseofwisdom/images/Red_sea_satellite.jpg” width=“260” height=“280” />Following two previous expeditions in spring 2010 and fall 2008, the KAUST Red Sea Expedition (KRSE) set out on its third trip mid-September, with about 60 marine biologists on board to study and document the Red Sea further.

The expedition be be exploring and collecting samples to study from brine pools, colds seeps and deep amd mid-water environments. The researchers will explore and collect microorganisms and fauna from the different environments they will visit.

While the expedition mostly involves researchers from KAUST’s Red Sea Research Center, there are several international research partners involved, such as Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) , Massachusetts, USA, the American University of Cairo (AUC), Egypt and Hellenic Center for Marine Research (HCMR), Greece.

“The scale of KRSE 2011 is just tremendous, given the peculiarities of the research objectives involved and the challenges associated with achieving the sampling requirements to meet these,” explains Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Suwailem, CMOR Core Lab Manager, in a press release. “Our studies have become more diversified in scope, all geared towards advancing the marine science agenda of the University.”

The researchers will stay aboard the 62-m long research vessel R/V Aegaeo of HCMR for 81-days during the sea voyage, which will return to the KAUST campus 15 December.

The Red Sea remains one of the least studied water bodies in the world. The two previous expeditions yielded important scientific discoveries about the temperature, salinity, currents and radiation. Researchers used the data to model the circulation and current patterns of the Red Sea. The trips also gathered unique bacteria samples from brine pools that were taken back ashore and studied ifurther, paving the way for some interesting discoveries, such as extremophile bacteria that can have useful industrial applications.

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