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 of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

I won't be at the Dive Show this weekend. But I had the pleasure to interview the sponsor 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 newspaper is related to... 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 to interview the naturalist diver and photographer Laurent Ballesta .

The article appeared this Friday, April 10, 2014 in the evening editionthe new digital newspaper launched by Ouest-Francefor which I work. This article is unfortunately no longer available online, but I have made a PDF version, 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 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 in 2013, during dives to 120 meters deep.

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 in me during the interview I did with him. You experience 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 of the team still have to go through 4 hours and 30 minutes 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 story between natural history and lived history

Laurent Ballesta didn't want to just publish a beautiful book of photos about 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 telling a long journey, he told me. The coelacanth is a very personal dream, one that I've had deep inside me for so many years... I tried to find a happy medium between the tasteless and the shameless, between the natural story and the lived story."

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

I haven't read the book yet, but our conversation has made me really want to dive in!!!

Apart from that, guess where Laurent Ballesta is going to dive soon? À Raja Ampat !!! I think there are even a few places left on one of the two photo cruises organized 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 also had the chance to discoverA little more than a year after this article was posted... 😉

  Between Two Journeys