Under the Pole, underwater polar expeditions

by spotmydive

What is Under the Pole?

Created in 2007 by Ghislain Bardout and Emmanuelle Périé-Bardout, a couple who have made their passion for exploration a profession and a way of life. The Under the Pole expeditions were born with the aim of pushing the limits of underwater exploration and to present the unexplored underwaters regions to the public. Recognized internationally, these expeditions have already brought together 150 team members and 180 companies and partner research institutes.

The 3 expeditions of Under The Pole

© Under the Pole

Deepsea Under The Pole by Rolex 2010

Imagined by Ghislain Bardout, the first Under The Pole expedition is naturally oriented towards the North Pole. After a series of training in the Alps, on Lake Tignes, then in Finland in the Gulf of Bothnia, the adventure begins on March 26, 2010 with eight crew members and a husky dog. They progress on the pack ice for 45 days and make about fifty dives in extreme conditions outside temperature felt -50 to -30 C ° and water temperature -1.8 C °. From this first expedition they brought back never seen images of the hidden face of the pack ice with nearly 60 hours of videos and 20 000 photos.

This expedition is also an opportunity to conduct two scientific programs dealing on the one hand with “snow and ice” and on the other hand with the “physiology of divers”. Every day, measurements of snow, ice and temperature are made. During the dives, the internal temperature of the divers is monitored thanks to a pill that they ingest a few hours before the immersion. Upon their return, a film “We walked under the pole” and a book of the same name, that explains the expedition are broadcast.

© Under the Pole

Under The Pole II, Discovery Greenland


Following the success of Deepsea Under The Pole, a new expedition is launched in 2014, this time, the focus is on Greenland and the Arctic region. On board a sailing ship, the Why, they leave Concarneau for 18 months of exploration to go discover the icebergs and the sharks of Greenland. On this occasion, the divers are equipped with closed circuits known as “recyclers” which allow them to reach depths never reached by mankind in Arctic.

Scientists, divers, sailors, doctors, cameramen, underwater photographers, more than 30 crew members work aboard the WHY. 400 dives were carried out during the expedition, mostly in the fjords, along coastlines, under giant icebergs and pack ice. In water with temperatures ranging from -1.8 to +1 ° C, they stay underwater two hours on average and perform long decompression stops. During this expedition, Under the Pole teams will have the chance to study the Greenland shark while diving in Qaanaaq Bay. This fish, one of the largest in the world lives between 200 and 2000 meters and only very rarely goes up in shallow depths. Other studies and scientific collaborations are conducted on bivalves, Greenland sharks and plankton. The expedition will be broadcast by two 52-minute films and a book.

© Under the Pole

Under The Pole III, Twilight Zone


This third installment of the expeditions Under The Pole III will combine several scientific programs in a trip divided into several stops. The objective of first one, carried out during the summer of 2017, was to explore the Northwest Passage. This first part of the expedition also allowed the team to study natural fluorescence and underwater biodiversity in the Arctic.

In July 2018, the expedition Under The Pole will start in French Polynesia. This research program will last 12 months and is called “DeepHope”. This program, developed in partnership with scientists from the Center for Island Research and Observatory of the Environment CRIOBE, will take divers to meet the deep coral reefs. If surface corals are widely documented, we know much less those located beyond 50 meters deep. Deep coral ecosystems could be the solution to save the shallow water corals. The DeepHope mission therefore aims to better understand the exchanges between surface corals and deep corals.

In parallel with this research on coral reefs, the team of Under The Pole will conduct studies on two of the great sharks: the great hammerhead shark and the bulldog shark. The divers’ missions will consist in collecting information on the species collecting DNA, tagging animals with tags to track their movements, observations, … and to study their behavior.

The CAPSULE Program

In its quest for innovation and surpassing the limits of underwater exploration, the Under The Pole teams have conceptualized a real underwater observatory called “Capsule” and definitely worthy of Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s Précontinent project, which can accommodate 3 divers. The objective of this device is to overcome the limits of time and to immerse for up to 72 hours without going back to the surface but also to blend in the environment so as not to disturb life underwater. The full size prototype of the “Capsule” is complete and construction will start next March. She will then be sent to French Polynesia for the first operating season in real conditions from June to August 2019!

You can follow the extraordinary adventures of these expeditions on: