Laurent Ballesta is a marine scientist, a distinguished underwater photographer and a pioneer in the use of new diving equipment. Blancpain’s support has enabled him to capitalize on his talents through his Gombessa Project which has been conceived to advance the public’s comprehension of hitherto inaccessible and dimly understood undersea ecosystems. The project has already given rise to four major expeditions and the fifth is under preparation for 2019.
Pristine Seas Expeditions with Blancpain is an exploration, research, and media project to find, survey, and help protect the last wild places in the ocean. These pristine places are unknown by all but long-distance fishing fleets, which have started to encroach on them. The project's mission is to let the world know that these places exist, that they are threatened, and that they deserve to be protected. This includes not only preserving areas that are pristine or near pristine, but also helping to restore areas that may have suffered some human impacts but still harbor unique features such as large animals, healthy bottom communities, and outstanding biodiversity. Blancpain has been a leader in the support of the National Geographic Society and its Pristine Seas efforts and was the first organization to contribute to it. This unwavering support, from May 2011 to May 2016, has helped the program grow to its present prominence as the world’s leading ocean conservation initiative.