The Gulf of Aqaba (also known in Israel as the Gulf of Eilat) is an important Middle Eastern body of water. The 99 mile long extension of the Red Sea is surrounded by four countries – Jordan, Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia – and houses coral reefs and hundreds of fish and invertebrate species.
Since the marine ecosystem is especially vital to both Jordan and Israel, scientists from both of these countries will be collaborating with scientists from Stanford University to provide detailed oceanographic information that would help Jordanian and Israeli environmental agencies minimize pollution.
Participants in the project say that they are collaborating for the sake of science, peace, and environmental conservation.
According to Stephen Monismith, one of the scientists from Stanford (and the person responsible for the beautiful underwater photo above), “the people involved are interested in international collaboration in science and protecting the place they live. Nothing in the ocean understands political borders.”
The other scientists include Riyad Manasrah (a physical oceanographer at the Marine Science Station in Aqaba) and Tariq Al-Najjar from Jordan, and Amatzia Genin (a professor of ecology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and Hezi Gildor (a physical oceanographer from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot) from Israel.
The scientists are being funded by a three year grant from the NATO Science for Peace and Security Program – a program which is also currently funding a collaborative water desalination project between Jordan and Israel.
Gildor recounted that “for me, this is the first joint project with colleagues from an Arab country. From my point of view, it has worked very well. We shared the data, we shared the instruments, we did a joint cruise. It was a nice and unique experience to deal with this type of collaboration, and I’m looking forward to continuing it.”
Read more about other border-crossing collaborative projects::