“Go! » At this signal, given by Captain Emmanuelle Périé-Bardout, the two frogs simultaneously switch to either side of the inflatable boat that took them to their dive site, the lighthouse at Pointe du Vieux-Fort at the southern tip of Guadeloupe. After a brief confusion, the divers disappear below the surface. Moments later, another pair performed the same somersault, flipping neck first into the indigo waves of the Caribbean Sea, falling through the air. The Breton navigator and his crew drown themselves, leaving the boat in charge of two crewmen.
About ten kilometers south of the lighthouse, Saints Archipelago stands out on the horizon. To the north and east, La Soufrière dominates the volcanic summit, dormant since its devastating eruption in 1976, and the densely vegetated mountains of Basse-Terre Island rise from the shore. To the west, blue as far as the eye can see. But unlike tourists who indulge in various water activities in this beautiful setting, the team led by Emmanuel Peri-Bardout and her husband, Ghislaine Bardout, leader of the Deep Life underwater expedition (“Deep Life”), has a busy work schedule. .
This is evidenced by the impressive amount of equipment the divers carry: between the underwater thrusters and the closed-circuit diving suits – more suitable for the study of underwater fauna because they do not emit bubbles -, their bulky kit weighs almost fifty kilos. It is enough to allow scientists to reach extraordinary depths in just a few minutes. Even in this translucent water, it is useless to try to follow them with your sight from the surface. “We will go down 120 meters today and collect samples of gorgonians, black corals, soft corals and seaweeds”, summarizes the gisline bardout in English, during the daily ritual of the dive briefing, minutes before the crew takes their place on board the Zodiac. Related to corals, gorgonians are these highly branched fan-shaped organisms. But now is no time for poetry. “The main objective is to be safe”Reminds the leader of this international scientific mission to his attentive and attentive audience during a long presentation of technical instructions.
Departs the ship from Concarno in March 2022 why, a 19.50 meter long aluminum schooner, the Deep Life Expedition aims to study mesophotic ecosystems located between 30 and 200 meters below the surface of the oceans at different points of the world. Human activity and climate change in this still little-known environment. Also, to contribute to their safety. In this area, accessible only to the most experienced professional divers and intrepid log hunters, the pressure becomes hard to bear, while only a faint blue glow comes from the surface. The environment is more or less shrouded in dark twilight depending on the transparency of the water. A semi-darkness between the clarity of the surface and the permanent darkness of the abyss.
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