My first impressions after snorkeling with barracuda (for a few minutes) in the Florida Keys, meeting with Ulysse Nardin and its ocean conservation partners, and trying on the new Diver Lemon Shark watch were positivity and energy. All of these companies are working toward a cleaner ocean, a better marine ecosystem with an abundance of fish, and conservation-based on education and science.
Ulysse Nardin has been involved in ocean conservation for a while, now. This makes great sense for several reasons, not the least being that this brand has rich roots as a marine chronometer and provider of marine and dive watches to certain armed forces. Ulysse Nardin, typically a bit on the disruptive side for a Swiss watch brand, also has a shark as its mascot and in its marketing and advertising campaigns. And, as of a year ago, has an approximately 15-year-old female great white shark swimming the oceans as its brand ambassador. The tagged shark was studied and tagged by the non-profit organization Ocearch and named Andromach by Ulysse Nardin. It now has a place of distinction on the Ulysse Nardin brand ambassador roster, alongside a host of divers and explorers.
Anticipating World Oceans Day (June 8, 2021) Ulysse Nardin gathered a select group of journalists in Islamorada, Florida Keys, for the unveiling of its newest Diver Lemon Shark watch and to learn more about its conservation efforts and the efforts of Ocearch when it comes to shark preservation and protection, and the Florida International University (FIU) Medina Aquarius program. The event was fascinating and cast a visionary light on ocean awareness, where what was once a glimmer of the future is now becoming reality.
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FIU, Aquarius, and Ocearch
The FIU team is in the throes of creating a new state-of-the-art underwater research lab to replace the current Aquarius lab that is already old. The plan is to remove the existing lab, hopefully in three years’ time, and install the soon-to-be-built clear acrylic lab in the same spot 60 feet below the surface of the waters in the marine sanctuary. An insider’s peek at the plans for the new lab reflects a space-age looking design with see-through spokes that enable a 360-degree view of what surrounds those scientists and visitors inside. FIU hopes to install the old research lab (the world’s only remaining underwater research lab left) on land in the Keys for people to tour and experience.
The lab is used for marine research, technology testing, elite diver training, and more. It has even been used for educational programming for children in schools around the world. NASA uses it as a testing ground for astronauts, as well. In fact, in the 25 years, FIU has operated Aquarius, it has hosted almost 400 aquanauts.
“We asked more than 50 experts from seven different working groups who use the Medina Aquarius lab what they needed in the new hull,” says Dr. Mike Heithaus, Dean at FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences and Education, noting that the process of creating a new state-of-the-art lab is incredibly complex. “In the end, we want to inspire people to care about the oceans and have science save the oceans.”
Their goal, like Ulysse Nardin’s, is similar to Ocearch, which was founded as a non-profit in 2007 by Chris Fischer who is trying to save sharks, especially the great white shark. The sharks are the balancer in the oceans and they need to be preserved. To do this, we need to understand their history, their ecosystems, their mating routines, and more. This is the job of Ocearch, which operates a single mothership equipped with a sideboard that enables the scientists and marine experts to load a shark on, take samples from it while still letting water flow through its gills, tag it and return it within 15 minutes to its environment. So far, Ocearch has completed 40 expeditions.
“We have a data deficit when it comes to sharks, and we are changing that,” says Fischer. “With every shark we study, there are 35 people from 24 different institutions conducting tests and projects with the samples we collected. We can solve the puzzle using data from just one animal and circulating to all the multi-disciplinary scientists that need it.”
Ulysse Nardin Diver Lemon Shark
These conservation views are all shared by Ulysse Nardin, which also has freediver Fred Buyle as a brand ambassador (among other divers and adventurists). Just last year, Ulysse Nardin also sponsored a project he was working on in the Azores to study blue sharks. It also invested time and research into creating a concept watch made from recycled materials and has created its own R-Strap watch strap totally made from recycled fishing nets.
In fact, the Diver Lemon Shark watch boasts the R-Strap, completing the ocean conservation message. The 42mm diver watch is water-resistant to 300 meters and is powered by a Ulysse Nardin self-winding movement with silicium components. Conservation supporters say a mechanical movement can theoretically last forever and is, therefore, a non-pollutant.
The Lemon Shark is crafted of blackened DLC stainless steel with a special concave unidirectional bezel and bold yellow markers and seconds hand that recalls the lemon shark. Just 300 pieces will be made. As mentioned, the watch honors the Lemon Shark, which is a gentle shark predominantly found in the Florida Keys. The watch retails for $7,300. Find out more at Ulysse Nardin.