THE GROUPER MYSTERY
Groupers mating in Fakarava
- A record-breaking 24-hour dive to -20m, with a unique decompression protocol and unprecedented slow-motion behavior at 1000 fps
- 45-day expedition
- South pass of Fakarava Atoll, French Polynesia
The expedition took place in 2014 in the southern pass of Fakarava atoll, in the Tuamotu archipelago of French Polynesia. The aim of the mission: to film the unique aggregation of Pacific camouflage groupers, Epinephelus polyphekadion, and illustrate the key role their reproduction plays in the balance of the lagoon’s ecosystem. Every year, on the full moon following the winter solstice, thousands of groupers gather in the narrow Tumakohua pass to reproduce. For several weeks, they demonstrate a wide range of interactions: territorial battles between males, harassment of females… right up to the brief but spectacular moment of reproduction. The 24-hour dive enabled us to observe a complete biological cycle, with all that this implies in terms of behavior, particularly nocturnal hunting.
- The expedition focused on 3 main areas
Scientific research: Mapping of the pass and the outer slope of the atoll. Scientific protocols in partnership with Moorea’s CRIOBE laboratory to calculate grouper and shark population sizes: 18,000 groupers and 700 sharks, the highest density in the world recorded for both species.
Scientific publication in Current Biology
Performance: A record 24-hour dive to -20m, with the implementation of a new decompression protocol specially developed for this dive. This innovative protocol allows decompression without depth change and ascent in just 2 hours.
Never-before-seen images: Video sequences slowed down to 1000 frames per second to decompose and study the mating of groupers and the nocturnal hunting of grey reef sharks.