Biologist Photographer, Expedition leader
Laurent Ballesta is a French photographer from Montpellier. He is the author of 13 books of underwater wildlife photography. Co-director of Andromède Océanologie, he has also led several large-scale expeditions over the past 10 years. His Gombessa Expeditions are based on three emblematic values: a scientific mystery, a diving challenge and the promise of never-before-seen images. From the first photographs of the coelacanth taken by a diver at a depth of 120m, to hunting the 700 sharks of Fakarava at night, to the longest and deepest dives in Antarctica, Laurent illustrates the underwater world with a naturalistic and artistic eye.
In July 2019, during the Gombessa 5 Expedition, Laurent achieved a world first by successfully marrying the resources of saturation diving initially dedicated to offshore operations, with the techniques of autonomous diving in an electronically managed rebreather with the aim of illustrating the deep ecosystems typical of the Mediterranean, and setting up scientific protocols at these great depths. Together with three other divers, Antonin Guilbert, Yanick Gentil and Thibault Rauby, they lived in a 5m2 module pressurized to 13 bars, equivalent to -120m depth, for 28 days. Every day, they went out to explore and study the twilight zone between 60 and 140 meters below the surface, from Marseille to Monaco.
Biologist, Ecological research and development
Pierre is a marine biologist and CEO of Andromède Océanologie, a specialized consultancy that helps integrate ecology into development projects thanks to its expertise and ability to enhance the underwater environment. Pierre has developed several projects contributing to the knowledge and protection of the Mediterranean, and in particular the DONIA application (Runner-up at the European Business Awards for the Environment), which enables all yachtsmen, fishermen and divers to know the nature of the seabed and thus avoid damaging seagrass beds with their anchors when anchored. Together with Laurent Ballesta, he is the author of the book “Planet Ocean, Ed. National Geographic”, which has been translated into 6 languages and distributed in over forty countries. In recent years, he has been in charge of the environmental assessment and environmental support for Monaco’s project to extend the city into the sea.
Doctor in marine ecology, Professional diver
Florian is Managing Director of Andromède Océanologie. In 2015, he obtained his Doctorate in Marine Ecology on “Interactions between marine ecosystems (Posidonia Herbarium and Coralligenous) and anthropogenic pressures, applications to the monitoring and management of coastal waters in the Mediterranean Sea” from the University of Montpellier. As part of Andromède, he established the first continuous mapping of marine habitats in the French Mediterranean for the Agence de l’Eau Rhone Méditerranée Corse (Rhone-Mediterranean-Corsica Water Agency), and set up a database on biological monitoring via the MEDTRIX mapping platform. As a scientific diver and surface coordinator on the Gombessa Expeditions, he also co-directed a 26′ film entitled “Méditerranée, une mer sous surveillance”, and a second documentary on the impact of mooring in Posidonia meadows.