WE'RE PROUD TO BE AN OFFICIAL PARTNER OF UNDER THE POLE

By supporting Under The Pole, a pioneering underwater research expedition, we are contributing to a more sustainable world. Our support helps advance our understanding of the oceans and preserves our planet for future generations.

CORALS

Coral reefs have evolved over tens of thousands of years. Today, they will probably be the first casualties of the increased pace of environmental change, causing them to die out on both local and regional scales. Around one-quarter of the world's reefs have already suffered irreversible damage. And two-thirds are seriously under threat.

WHY DO WE NEED TO PROTECT CORALS?

In order to survive, corals need water of good quality and phytoplankton. To let the corals die is to accept the disappearance of numerous species of fish and seaweed and the severance of the chain that links us to marine biodiversity. The death of corals punishes millions of people who live from fishing and will ultimately condemn humanity as a whole, for 70% of the oxygen we breathe is produced by phytoplankton that in turn require healthy water.
Coral reefs play a vital role in the equilibrium of ocean and planetary ecosystems

THE DEEPHOPE
PROGRAM

A ONE-YEAR EXPEDITION TO FRENCH POLYNESIA TO GAIN A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF MESOPHOTIC CORALS AT DEPTHS OF 30 TO 150 METERS

THE REFUGE THEORY

DEEPHOPE is a scientific program studying corals in the mesophotic zone. Its aim is to test the theory of whether surface corals - those currently threatened by global warming and human activity - might have sought refuge in the mesophotic zone to reproduce - hence the name of “refuge theory”.

WHAT HAS THE PROGRAM DISCOVERED IN FRENCH POLYNESIA SO FAR?

NINE FAMILIES AND 27 GENERA OF CORAL, INCLUDING TWO NEW GENERA AND ONE NEW SPECIES FOUND IN FRENCH POLYNESIA

4,000 CORAL SAMPLES TAKEN, MOST OF THEM UNIQUE AND NEVER GATHERED BEFORE, FORMING THE WORLD'S MOST IMPORTANT COLLECTION

On 4 April 2019, Under The Pole's divers found the world's deepest known mesophotic coral, Leptoseris hawaiiensis, 172 meters below the surface in the Gambier Islands in French Polynesia.

 

"I've been waiting for discoveries like these for forty years. These results will form a robust and essential foundation for testing hypotheses about the ability of the mesophotic zone to serve as a refuge for coral. "

Michel Pichon,

Marine Biologist specializing in coral reefs

"These discoveries help to support the hypothesis that the ocean depths are acting as a refuge for surface corals, and they give us hope of restoring them. "

Ghislain Bardout,

Founder and Director, Under The Pole expeditions

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

In July 2020, the main results of the DEEPHOPE program will be presented to the 14th International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen (Germany). They will shed fresh light on the diversity and biogeography of the corals of the Central and Eastern Pacific.

In August 2019, Under The Pole will take on a new challenge: saturation diving from the CAPSULE underwater observatory. This will enable expedition divers to stay underwater for several days at a time.

The Under The Pole team will continue its studies of coral, including one key moment in the coral's life: sexual reproduction. A few nights each year, corals release spawn into the water, and this is fertilized to create larvae. The process is vital for renewing coral populations and bringing new individuals to the reef. The exact dates and times when this life changing moment happens are known for only a handful of species in French Polynesia, and it has never been observed at close quarters.

“As we face the prospect of an environmental emergency, we must do our utmost to acquire the knowledge we need to protect the oceans and manage their resources sustainably. We hope these results will inspire other research and lead to the creation of new protected marine areas. "

Emmanuelle Périé-Bardout,

Founder and Director, Under The Pole expeditions

THE CAPSULE
PROGRAM

From September to November 2019, the CAPSULE, a lightweight underwater habitat, will serve as a refuge for divers. It will enable them to engage in total immersion research, in which they remain underwater for several days.

The CAPSULE will be stationed at a depth of twenty meters, enabling divers to rest and eat while observing the fauna. Using this underwater habitat means divers can avoid a prolonged staged ascent to the surface lasting three to six hours - and all for just twenty minutes of observation 120 meters down. This saves a great deal of time by allowing divers to stay underwater for longer and undertake more research. Tea CAPSULE acts as a second base camp where divers can rest and eat. And from the CAPSULE, they can enjoy a breath-taking front row view of a vast and silent blue world.

"Yesterday's challenge was to dive deep into the oceans. Today, the aim of underwater exploration is to stay underwater for longer, to discover and understand the oceans and the creatures living in them. "

Ghislain Bardout,

Founder and Director, Under The Pole expeditions

THE CAPSULE PROGRAM

SCIENTIFIC EXPLORATION

Studying a reef at depths of up to 150 meters, including aspects such as species biology, corals, inter-species interaction, and lemon sharks

Physiological study of the divers

Research on whales and other cetaceans

Media

PHOTOGRAPHS

VIDEOS

1. The Wrap-Up

2. Exploration in the Gambier Islands

3. The Marquesas Islands: Te Fenua 'Enata

4. Polynesia highlights

5. Tiputa Swing

6. Tikehau - Atoll

7. Makatea, island of mystery

8. Raivavae: diving in the southern oceans