For more than 60 years, Blancpain’s commitment to the underwater world has been reflected in its desire to contribute to the knowledge and preservation of this fascinating universe. It is for this reason that the brand supports a large number of significant scientific endeavors including the Gombessa Project led by Laurent Ballesta, which has already given rise to three major expeditions. And it is indeed Laurent Ballesta and his team who are also benefiting from an additional donation of 250,000 Euros linked to the first limited edition Blancpain Ocean Commitment watch.
Within the framework of the Gombessa II expedition in 2014, Laurent Ballesta’s team went to the southern pass of the Fakarava atoll in French Polynesia to watch the annual gathering of camouflage groupers (Epinephelus polyphekadion) who once a year all come to breed in the middle of the pass. During the expedition, researchers were surprised to note an unusual density of gray reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) totaling between 400 and 700 individuals. This is the largest density of this species ever seen. In addition, shots of some 2,000 images per second used to illustrate the detail of the grouper reproductive phenomenon revealed the intensity of the sharks’ nocturnal activity, as well as what appeared to be a nocturnal pack hunting strategy. If this strategy was to be confirmed, it would call into question our existing knowledge of these sea creatures. Blancpain therefore decided to award the Gombessa team an additional 250,000 Euros linked to the first limited edition Blancpain Ocean Commitment watch, in order to help them set up a new scientific project focusing on the pack hunting behavior of gray sharks.
The project started in June-July 2016 with an initial 35-day expedition, which saw divers spend a total 200 hours of night diving in the heart of the shark pack and enabled the implementation of protocols and use of observation equipment required to answer questions related to the great density of sharks and their behavior. In 2017, during the second phase of the project, the team will be able to establish a more accurate picture and verify various scientific hypotheses, as well as proposing increased protection of this hotspot of biodiversity.