The incredible challenge of Laurent Ballesta

by spotmydive

The famous Laurent Ballesta is engaged in the rediscovery of the Mediterranean. He will explore the seabed for a month with three other divers: an adventure completely new!

Laurent Ballesta is a French underwater photographer and biologist. Today author of 13 books devoted to underwater photography, he also initiated the production of numerous documentary films for French and international television. He never forgets these 3 fundamental principles during his expeditions: a scientific mystery, a diving challenge and the promise of unseen animal images.
After diving with the coelacanth in South Africa Gombessa I, after studying the reproduction of groupers in French Polynesia Gombessa II, the deep waters of Antarctica Gombessa III, gray shark hunts in French Polynesia Gombessa IV, Laurent Ballesta will lead, in July, this new great expedition in the Mediterranean Gombessa V.

The expedition named Mediterranean planet will run from July 1st to 28th and will run along the coast from Marseille to Monaco. Approximately € 3 million will have been required for this mission to be completed.

The bathyal station, a technological jewel

Accompanied by Yannick Gentil, Thibault Rauby and Antonin Guilbert, Laurent Ballesta will spend nearly a month in a tiny capsule of 5 m². The great innovation is that the station will be maintained at a pressure thirteen times that of the surface, which will then allow the underwater explorers to stay for hours at 120 m depth or more. This super machine: is the “bathyale station” with reference to the bathyal zone which designates, in oceanology, the great depths. This machine combines the performances and advances of industrial diving with the freedom of movement of sports diving.

The station is placed on a boat towed by a tug above the points of interest: black coral forest, submarine of the Second World War …. With a size of 10m2, it has 3 compartments: a living module, a sanitary module and a diving module called “diving turret” to access the seabed.

At the rediscovery of the Mediterranean

The expedition aims to explore the Mediterranean as never before. Indeed, it still has a lot of secrets to give us. In the so-called bathyal zone, between 60 and 120 meters deep, we find marine ecosystems little studied: coralliferous reefs, a kind of Mediterranean coral reef made up of corals, calcareous algae, mollusks, gorgonians and sponges. As a result of men’s activities, they are now the new refuge of biodiversity. There is a whole group of living organisms that make their own biotope and live in the “twilight zone”, where less than 1% of the sunlight gets to.

They are difficult to access because of the pressure thirteen times greater than that of the surface. Only brief incursions followed by slow three, four, five-hour re-rides can be expected to decompress.

The other mission is to monitor the polluting discharges of cities off Cannes, Antibes and Nice. These municipalities have entrusted Planet Méditerranée with the task of controlling the impact of their wastewater. The mission has, moreover, planned to dive over the pipe that rejects the red mud from Gardanne.

The team was also recruited by the Department of Underwater and Underwater Archaeological Research DRASSM to visit: the “Natal”, a steamship sunk in 1917 not far from Marseille. According to legend, it would contain gold bullion. A documentary on the expedition will be broadcast in France and internationally in 2020. Every day, video blogs will be available to follow the progress of the expedition.