Monegasque schoolchildren join in with the CSM’s six-year coral protection study

Since September, students from 10 CM2 classes in the Principality have been enjoying a series of special lessons courtesy of three “teachers” from the Centre Scientifique de Monaco (CSM).

The 10 and 11-year-olds have been studying Mediterranean red coral and the importance of protecting the species, which has been the subject of an ongoing six-year study by a research unit at the CSM since 2019.  


Red coral falls into a category termed “precious”. It is special because of its distinctive red hue and this has made it the target of humans for thousands of years, who have used it, amongst other things, as a stand-in for currency. Other uses in the modern day include jewellery, homeopathic remedies, art and even using pieces as good luck charms.  

Though not in danger of disappearing entirely, today’s stocks of Mediterranean red coral are being overexploited. 

The species is a slow-grower – red corals only grow by one to three millimetres per year – and it is slow to reproduce, meaning that stocks are not quickly or easily replenished.  

Some of the protections already in place are minimum size requirements and quotas for the 350 or so “farmers” of red coral in the Mediterranean, but there are calls for greater regulation and better management of farmers’ practices.  


To alert a new generation to the need to protect this unique “precious” coral, the CSM recently developed a workshop for CM2 students in collaboration with Monaco’s Department of National Education, Youth and Sports.  

It was designed to “awaken students’ curiosity, develop their sense of observation and critical thinking, give a taste for science and develop scientific culture”, as well as to remind them of the need to preserve this natural resource.  

Professor Denis Allemand of the CSM was among the scientists and researchers who traded the laboratory for the classroom. Photo credit: Monaco Communications Department

Three researchers from CSM – Romie Tignat-Perrier, Denis Allemand and Clémence Forin – led the various sessions over the past term, presenting their work and findings to the Monegasque students via projections, samples and a specially created book called Le Mystère du Corail Rouge, which was handed out to the children at the end of term.  

Princess Caroline of Hanover wrote the preface to the book, and she used her part in its publication to honour the connection of projects such as these with her late father, Prince Rainier III. 

“In the year of the centenary of the birth of Prince Rainier III, this pays him a perfect tribute since, among his numerous actions for the protection of nature, he was at the origin of the Spélugues underwater reserve, which protects the only coral reef in our Principality.” 

Prince Rainier III also founded the CSM back in May 1960.  


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Photo credit: Monaco Communications Department