The new underwater expedition of the Montpellier biologist and photographer Laurent Ballesta is fascinating. Since July 1, he has been living with three other divers (Antonin Guilbert, Thibault Rauby and Roberto Rinaldi) in a 5 m² capsule off Corsica. This is Gombessa Expedition 6 whose goal is to study mysterious circular underwater structures.
A thousand rings unique in the world
At the origin of this expedition, an amazing discovery: ten years ago during a sonar exploration campaign in northern Corsica (in the marine natural park of Cap Corse and Agriate) researchers observed strange red rings, there are a thousand of them, up to 30 meters in diameter. “These are inexplicable designs, some touching each other, others are separate. Some porcelains and sea slugs (which live there) could be new species for science.”, describes Laurent Ballesta. What surprised scientists was their perfectly circular shape.
The origin of these formations never seen before is unknown. It could be biological, volcanic, or maybe a combination of both. The expedition aims to unravel this mystery.
“It is extremely confusing: are we in the middle of something biological and under construction or on the contrary are we on the vestiges of something which took place in the past?”
Laurent Ballesta and his teammates have planned to spend three weeks in this capsule where they are maintained under a pressure equivalent to that of 120 m deep to avoid decompression stops during each dive. Every day (weather permitting) they descend to the bottom via an elevator for 4-hour dives to observe these rings. The data collected will then be analyzed for months.
Duplex between the seabed and space
Laurent Ballesta was able to establish a link with Thomas Pesquet who is in the international space station. They were able to discuss with humor their respective experiences. Laurent Ballesta notably explained his mission (the voice distorted by the gas mixture composed of 94% helium and only 6% oxygen which allows it to breathe within the yellow capsule).