My interview with Laurent Ballesta, in the evening edition.
My interview with Laurent Ballesta appeared in the evening edition of Ouest-France.

Diving with Laurent Ballesta to photograph the oldest fish in the world

  Between Two Journeys

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text: 

I won't be at the dive show this weekend. But I had the pleasure to interview the godfather of this 2014 edition, the underwater photographer and naturalist Laurent Ballesta.

He went diving with the oldest fish in the world...

I rarely mix up my personal posts on this blog and my job as a journalist at Ouest-France. Except when the theme of one of my articles for the paper has something to do with... diving!


After my meeting with François Sarano and Jacques Perrin at the beginning of 2010 for the release of the film Oceansthis time I had the pleasure of interviewing the naturalist diver and photographer... Laurent Ballesta .

The article appeared this Friday, April 10, 2014 in the digital evening editionthe new digital newspaper launched by Ouest-Francewhich I work for. This article is unfortunately no longer available online, but I have made a PDF version of it, which you can read by clicking on the link or image below :

My interview with Laurent Ballesta, in the evening edition.
My interview with Laurent Ballesta appeared in the digital evening edition from Ouest-France.

The man who photographed the coelacanths

Laurent Ballesta is the man who photographed the mythical coelacanththe oldest fish in the world. It was in South Africa, in 2010 and 2013, during dives at a depth of 120 meters.

Gombessa: meeting with the coelacanth, by Laurent Ballesta.
Laurent Ballesta's book on his encounter with the coelacanth, with a preface by Nicolas Hulot (Andromède editions).

He has just published a book, with a preface by Nicolas Hulot (his former partner in the TV shows Ushuaïa), on his extraordinary expeditions. It is entitled Gombessa: meeting with the coelacant, from the local name of the famous fish. A film will also be broadcast on Arte in May 2014.

Laurent Ballesta will be present this weekend at the Salon de la plongée 2014, at the Parc-Expo of the Porte de Versailles in Paris. On the program: exhibition, signing sessions, conferences (Saturday at 4pm and Sunday at 2pm). If you are there, these are really moments not to be missed...

Biologist and photographer, this specialist of deep rebreather dives talks about his quest for the coelacanth with a communicative passion: "These are the most complicated dives of my life, the most committed, the most difficult, he confided to me in the interview I did with him. You live 30 incredible minutes with the animal, in 120-150 meters of water, and those minutes are worth an eternity..." 

An eternity that is costly... He and the other divers in the team still have to endure 4 and a half hours of decompression before they can return to the surface.

😮 😱

Below is an excerpt from the Gombessa I expedition documentary, later posted on YouTube:

Laurent Ballesta: "A narrative between natural history and lived history".

Laurent Ballesta didn't want to settle for publishing a beautiful book of photos on the adventure of the Gombessa project. So he decided to write in the first person. 

"I consider myself a wildlife photographer, but I wanted to accompany my images with a story, like a long journey, he told me. Coelacanth is a very personal dream that I have had in my heart for so many years... I have tried to find a balance between the insipid and the shameless, between natural history and lived history. »

Laurent Ballesta during the Gombessa expedition, South Africa, end of April 2013. (Photo: Andromède Oceanology)
Laurent Ballesta during the Gombessa expedition, South Africa, end of April 2013.
(Photo: Andromeda Oceanology)

I haven't read the book yet, but our conversation made me want to dive into it !!!

Apart from that, guess where Laurent Ballesta is going to dive soon? À Raja Ampat !!! I even think there's still a few places left on one of the two photo cruises organised with him at the end of January - beginning of February 2014…

2015 Update: Laurent Ballesta made this cruise to Raja Ampat on board the well-named Waowa magnificent ship that I too was fortunate enough to discover...a little more than a year after this article was posted online... 😉

  Between Two Journeys

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  1. @Corinne: I won't be coming to the diving show either, but you know why! 😳
    I can read your "evening editions" differently than Ipad, because I do not have a tablet, and suddenly, there are many articles that interested me and I could not read! I will wait!

    1. @Didier: yes, alas... 😕
      I'm part of the small team that started the digital evening edition. We are only at the beginning, things are improving little by little, especially on a technical level. For the moment, only two issues are published per week and only on iPad. Ultimately, we should be released every day from Monday to Friday, and be available on all media. Patience, patience, it's a work in progress, as they say!

  2. It's a shame, the titles are trimmed on my browser, does it do the same everywhere, because suddenly, the report is good but I can not read everything

    1. @Sema:I could not see at all what you wanted to say, until the day I looked at my blog, while being logged on Facebook as a "page" (not as a "profile" of anyone). So, it makes appear, instead of the share button that is above and below my articles, a square offering to leave the profile page to "switch" to the person profile. This square breaks the layout of my articles on the blog by making margins that truncate the titles and the rest ... I will look into the problem next day. To read the article correctly, switch to Person profile mode on FB, or disconnect from FB.

  3. 120, 150 meters ... It gives chills. Dives out of the ordinary with magic moments to the key.

    I had already read an interview with Laurent Ballesta about his 2 expeditions to South Africa. On the other hand, I will have to look at this book that looks beautiful with a "real" story in it.

    Is your interview always available online?

    1. @Planete Maneki: yes, it gives chills. This guy really did some amazing things ...

      My interview appeared in the issue of the digital evening edition Friday, January 10, 2014. This is an evening newspaper to download on digital tablet, it is not an online searchable website.

      I have to check, but I do not know if we have access to the archives retrospectively. The evening edition installs on iPad and now on Android tablets too:
      - AppStore:
      - Google Play:
      It has been more than two months since it was published, I will get it back to add it here.