EXPLORATION

Promoting the discovery of marine biodiversity and providing understanding of ocean protection is an important objective for Andromède Océanologie. Highlighting the marine biodiversity of a site, an atoll, a country, is one of the skills we have painstakingly developed. The results are in the form of books, documentaries and conferences for the general public to highlight these natural assets.

Andromède Océanologie develops its own expedition projects in the “Gombessa” series, which is intended to focus on marine life, mainly in the dusky zones at a depth of more than 100m.

The Gombessa missions are selected for their natural history interest and follow three themes:

  • a scientific enigma which is the basis for the mission ;
  • a sub-marine diving challenge requiring deep, committed and often extreme dives ;
  • the promise of hitherto unseen images

Currently 5 missions have been completed:

  • Gombessa I, diving to our origins: Laurent Ballesta and his team went on a mission to South Africa to dive with the cœlacant and carry out the first scientific protocols on the mythical “living fossil” which lives at depths in excess of 120 m.
  • Gombessa II the grouper fish mystery: The team looked at a unique gathering of Pacific Camouflage groupers in the Fakarava atoll and illustrated the key role their reproduction plays in balancing the lagoon’s ecosystem.
  • Gombessa III Mission Antarctica: Laurent Ballesta and Vincent Munier, the wildlife photographers, travelled to the Antarctic for a pioneering mission that combined diving and photography. The expedition was part of a wider project initiated by the director Luc Jacquet (winner of the 2006 Oscar for the best documentary for The Emperor’s journey) aimed at measuring the consequences of global warming in this polar region.
  • Gombessa IV, 700 sharks in the night: Return to Fakarava… but this time for breathtaking night dives in the midst of a horde of grey sharks. A chaotic free-for-all buffet or a well organised pack hunt?
  • Gombessa V, Planet Mediterranean: in 2019, on a par with Cousteau’s homes under the sea, Laurent and 3 Gombessa team divers spent 28 days in a sub-marine station pressurised at 11 times atmospheric pressure. The divers freely explored the deep sea from Marseille to Monaco without any de-pressurisation constraints.

Each mission is the subject of new productions, in particular for the ARTE channel and National Geographic. “700 sharks in the night” won over 70 international awards and was nominated for the Emmy awards.

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