10% by 2022 Goal for MPAs


Southern Ocean
November - December 2015

Gombessa III

Following on from the Gombessa I expedition, which revealed the secrets of the coelacanth, the greatest zoological discovery of the 20th century, and Gombessa II, which studied the spectacular spawn of the camouflage grouper, Laurent Ballesta and Blancpain travelled to Antarctica in 2015 for a pioneering exploratory, diving and photographic mission.

The HQ of the Gombessa III expedition was set up at the French Dumont d'Urville scientific base in Adélie Land. This was the first time a team of technical divers was able to go beneath the sea ice in this region. Each of the dives, never previously undertaken, represented an achievement on both human and technical levels, and delivered the very first naturalist images of Antarctica’s deep-sea ecosystems. At the request of several research groups, particularly those at the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) in Paris and the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Marseille, the Gombessa III team contributed to an inventory of deep-sea fauna that was created in relation to the issue of global warming, and shared all of their footage with researchers for use in scientific publications.

Gombessa III corresponded to the underwater element of the Wild-Touch Expeditions - Antarctica! project initiated and directed by Luc Jacquet. Ten years after March of the Penguins, the director returned to the Antarctic with a highly talented artistic team, which included renowned photographers Laurent Ballesta and Vincent Munier, to deliver a touching testament to a territory threatened by global warming. This immersive journey to the other side of the planet was made possible by the support of many partners, and with the help of the teams and logistics provided by the French Polar Institute and the French Southern and Antarctic Lands.