The photographer and biologist Laurent Ballesta embarks on a new underwater adventure on Monday:

28 days at 120 meters deep, between Marseille and Monaco. Fascinated by Commander Jacques-Yves Cousteau, he takes the torch of his underwater exploits to explore the Mediterranean.

At 45, including thirty years of diving, he will live an extraordinary expedition. With his three teammates, they will live 28 days at sea, 120 meters deep, between Marseille and Monaco, behind closed doors.

"Exoticism is not at the end of the world. In the Mediterranean, there are virgin places, "says this passionate seabed.

A challenge of nature: 28 days behind closed doors at 120 meters depth

For such a mission, it was necessary to defy nature. The pressure in this area - thirteen times that of the surface! - indeed requires long decompression times and significantly shortens the time of exploration.

"The problem of diving," he says, "is not the descent, it's the ascent. For a handful of minutes at great depth, it is hours and hours of ascent and decompression required.

"When you only spend thirty minutes at a depth of 120 meters, the climb lasts five hours! "Laments Laurent Ballesta.

To challenge nature and save time, Ballesta and his team came up with new techniques using practices already in place, but never before combined. The result is called "Gombessa V: Mediterranean Planet".

A twenty-eight day non-stop immersion in the aquatic "basements" of the Mediterranean

The solution is not to go back! So to work at 120 meters under water for 28 days, Laurent Ballesta and his divers will lock themselves in a pressurized box with steel walls.

More exactly in two modules of life including a dormitory module of 5m ² and a wet module with a bathroom and toilet, 2m ². With Ballesta, his long-time accomplices: Antin Guilbert, marine biologist, Thibault Rauby, instructor dive instructor and lighting assistant, and Yanick Gentil, cameraman.

Every day, a bell will sink divers up to 120 meters deep. They will rise to the surface to eat and rest, but still locked up and subjected to a pressure thirteen times that of the atmosphere.

The technique is not new in itself. A technique already used for divers in the offshore oil industry repairing pipelines.

But in this new adventure each diver will be equipped with submarine thrusters and fins. They will be able to travel the funds up to eight hours a day!

"The global feat is our freedom! declares the biologist (...) we will be able to move as we see fit in sites untouched by any observation. It's a turning point in the history of diving. If joining such depths is always a challenge, staying there was a fantasy. This summer, utopia will become reality. "

The objectives of this mission

Thanks to this odyssey, the themes of pollution, biodiversity and history will be invited ..., a dozen French and foreign laboratories having commissioned unpublished research protocols. Black coral forests and coral reefs or mapping areas, study of wastewater disposal sites, exploration of a wreck dating from the First World War will be studied.

On the ground a whole team of about thirty scientists.

Three cameras will monitor the divers day and night and their state of health. Because such living conditions alter the character. At the helm of the "saturation technique" team of the project, Théo Mavrostomos, a legend who holds the record of the "world's deepest man" with an experimental dive at 701 meters.

"" Mediterranean Planet "is a technical challenge in the service of knowledge, a human and sporting challenge to better know the Mediterranean," explains the chief explorer.

Andrew Preston for DayNewsWorld