So, now, yes... It was worth it d' to face the 16°C at the bottom for such colors... (Port-Cros, Hyères, France, July 2014)
So, now, yes... It was worth the 16°C at the bottom for colors like that... (Port-Cros, Hyères, France, July 2014)

Exotic Mediterranean Sea

  France: French Riviera - July 2014

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: 


The coral of the tropical seas has to be careful. The bottoms of the Mediterranean Sea are also very beautiful. The proof in flashy pink at Port-Cros.

Memories of summer 2014: diving in Port-Cros

At the end of July 2014, I was in Hyères, in the Var. And I still can't believe what I saw underwater. When the coral (of red gorgonians) revealed bright tropical hues - pink, purple, red - under my flash, I was hallucinating... 😮

So, now, yes... It was worth the 16°C at the bottom for colors like that... (Port-Cros, Hyères, France, July 2014)
So, yes... It was worth it to face the 16°C at the bottom for such colors... (Port-Cros, Hyères, France, July 2014)

Well, I admit, at first, I wonder what I'm doing here, swimming in cold water, above a monotonous expanse of Posidonia with my 7D

I start by trying to turn my little friends into graceful shadows on a blue background. Not very conclusive.

And then the bright colors of the gorgonians and the life appeared. There are big placid groupers, which are legion in the area - we are on the site of La Pointe du Vaisseau, near the island of Port-Cros. And then some nice pink nudibranchs, impossible to photograph with a fish-eye. Small schools of bright-silver fish with yellow stripes, whose name I do not know. And even some barracudas on the move! But they are a bit too far away for good pictures...

The more it goes, the more I enjoy this new Mediterranean environment, unheard of for me - the Breton diver who fears cold water and only fins in tropical seas anymore... 😜

Two big sleeping groupers take off from their rock when they see the divers coming... Port-Cros, Hyères, France, July 2014)
Two big sleeping groupers take off from their rock when they see the divers arrive... (Port-Cros, Hyères, France, July 2014)
You want my picture? (Port-Cros, Hyères, France, July 2014)
You want my picture? (Port-Cros, Hyères, France, July 2014)

Even the posidonia, this aquatic plant (which is not a seaweed) that I only knew through TV reports, and that I discovered for the first time with my own eyes, became a fascinating subject, undulating with the swell. A show in its own right, very difficult to photograph...

Gaby, from the À l'Eau Plongée center (whose name has become Eco Diving), who accompanied me and Christèle, my partner of the day, even played the models for my lens near the big rock covered with pink coral! Really nice, I appreciate it. 👌

I am exhausted, but I take it upon myself to throw a few last flashes at the end of the dive. 

Divers release their bubbles above the expanse of posidonia. (Port-Cros, Hyères, France, July 2014)
Divers release their bubbles above the posidonia expanse. (Port-Cros, Hyères, France, July 2014)
Posidonia provides shelter for small fish. (Port-Cros, Hyères, France, July 2014)
Posidonia provides shelter for small fish (Port-Cros, Hyères, France, July 2014)

My enemy: the cold

Back on the boat, I was shaken by violent tremors, impossible to repress. My poor worn out 5 mm (I put a shorty-cagoule over it though) and my frail body of frigid are not adapted to the Mediterranean waters of about twenty degrees on the surface at this time and barely 15-16°C in depth... 🥶

But Alain's boat, which holds the center Eco Diving (ex-À l'Eau Plongée) in La Londe-les-Maures, is equipped with HOT water showers!!! 👏 Supreme luxury and happiness. Those who never feel cold (but really cold) underwater can't understand.

I'm smiling for the photo, but I'm freezing when I get out of the water... (Port-Cros, Hyères, France, July 2014)
I smile for the picture, but I'm freezing when I get out of the water... (Port-Cros, Hyères, France, July 2014)

Most of my short stay in Hyères was devoted to a apnea courseI only found time to do one small exploration trip with a tank in the Mediterranean waters... A first in my little diver's life, I had never dipped my fins in them before! Porquerolles, Port-Cros, the peninsula of Giens : these famous sites in the south of France are really super-exotic spots for me... 

I will surely go back there, one day soon. But not before I have seriously equipped myself with a wetsuit adapted to these waters which are too cold for my taste.

Update, December 2022. Alas, the red gorgonians of the Mediterranean have experienced a massive die-off, in this summer of 2022, due to abnormally high water temperatures, caused by global warming. With great sadness, I realize that this article from 2014 is now a testament to what has been and is no more. I invite you to read this other article I just published in the evening edition d'Ouest-France on the mission "Noah's Ark of the Deep" launched by the 1Ocean Foundation, the CNRS and Unesco, to study the deep forests of gorgonians (beyond 40-50 meters) which, for the moment, have survived:

➡️ They explore the deep wrecks of the Mediterranean to save the dying gorgonians

When you come from Brittany, the Mediterranean coast is "exotic"... (Hyères, France, July 2014)
When you come from Brittany, the Mediterranean coast is "exotic"... (Hyères, France, July 2014)

  France: French Riviera - July 2014

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  1. Posidonie, quand tu nous envoûtes....this could be the beginning of a song, without forgetting to slip in a little verse about the cold... 😉

  2. Thanks for this nice post. I look forward to seeing you at our place for some wrecks this time. Happy new year and good bubbles from elsewhere!

  3. 20 °, for me diving in Brittany at 12-15 °, it's a dream! : p
    Great pictures, as always! the posidonia that stands out against the blue background is beautiful

  4. Hello,
    I'll go back to the first of your remarks: "When the coral revealed bright tropical hues - pink, mauve, red - under my flash, I was hallucinating..."
    I started my diving career in Tahiti, then the Red Sea, the Mediterranean and finally the Atlantic. When I was introduced to the Mediterranean, I already had more than a hundred dives under my belt, and above all, all my equipment. It is important to know that I always dive with a lighthouse (or two). During this first dive, the DP told me: "The lighthouse, no need, today there is a good visibility." I dove in and found it dull, without color. When I came back up, everyone seemed happy with their dive but not me. I didn't understand why. I blamed it on my dives in warm, clear seas.
    The next time, by reflex, I took my headlight and hung it in its place. Underwater, I did what I always do: I turned on my headlight during the descent. And then, once I was down, oh my, the colors were revealed. Very beautiful.
    I continue to dive in the Mediterranean with friends from the club and always with light, a little less often because I get cold quickly. In fact, I never understood the divers who left without light. What a waste!
    Have a good day

  5. We will sometimes look far away what is next to it ...
    Very beautiful photos, which gives a little color to this very dark day
    => I AM CHARLIE

  6. @Corinne: Well, what do you know! Beyond your beautiful photos, you gave me a good laugh with the coolness of the water! 😆
    I can imagine the trick, you being so used to tropical waters 😉

  7. For me, the best dive sites in France are on the island of Port Cros. Followed by those around Hyères and Marseille. It is magnificent. The best of the best is La Gabinière, which I highly recommend. There are many groupers and schools of barracudas, I even found some lobsters there.
    Even if we have a lot in common because I have been to most of the dive sites you describe in South East Asia (my diving career started in the Mediterranean in 2003), for me the Gabinière is one of the best dive spots in the world 😉 If you want some, I can give you some tips of sites to see absolutely in France.

  8. And vi, I dived for years in Port Cros. I saw these green algae like hair coming and covering everything. Then the number of red gorgonians started to disappear in the 20m zone. Now you have to go down below 30m with a slightly established current to still have intact gorgonians and sponges.
    A world is dying...

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