UNDER THE POLE OFFICIAL MEMBER
OF THE IUCN

UNDER THE POLE is pleased and privileged to be officially listed as a member of the IUCN.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature is recognized for its scientific credibility, its knowledge and its unique role in bringing people together. This nomination is the result of the work carried out since 2008 in favour of marine biodiversity, both at the scientific level and with the public.

Already integrated in the French commissions concerning Education and the Ocean as an expert, UNDER THE POLE is delighted to join this network.

EMMANUELLE & GHISLAIN INTERVIEW
AFTER 2 MONTHS OF POLAR EXPEDITION

Two weeks after leaving Svalbard, Emmanuelle and Ghislain BARDOUT answer our questions and look back on the first polar expedition of the scientific program DEEPLIFE • 2021-2030.

• During the first part of the polar expedition, you discovered a small Arctic marine animal forest in the form of an "anemone garden". Have you discovered any others since then, how big are they, and were you able to implement the originally planned DEEPLIFE science program?

Although we observed interesting and varied ecosystems on each dive, we did not find any real animal forests during the first weeks. A few days before Lorenzo's (DEEPLIFE's scientific co-director) departure, we located a nice hydroids forest between 40 and 76 m depth.

We then spent about ten days on this site to carry out the scientific protocol: installation of sensors and sediment traps, taking biological samples, photo-quadra, taking environmental data (CTD, water filtration). We were really able to observe the richness inherent to a forest and see that they can develop in the high Arctic. The samples are kept on board the WHY, which is currently returning to France, and will be recovered by the scientists for analysis. This discovery is a first step and a reference for future research on marine animal forests in the polar regions. 


• How did the diving conditions evolve between the beginning of the scientific program in April and now in June?

Favorably! The beginning was rough: the sub-zero temperatures (-20°C / -30°C with the effect of the wind), the wind and the sea conditions made the first three weeks of prospecting difficult between the end of April and mid-May for the divers and the team on the surface. The conditions were then much more bearable. The water and surface temperature increased significantly, and the weather offered periods of calm, making the work on deck much easier. One point of reference: at the end of the expedition, we could equip the divers without gloves! 


• For several members of the team currently on board the WHY, this is not the first time they have been in this very specific environment of Svalbard. Have you noticed any changes in the Arctic ecosystems since your last visit to the archipelago?

Emmanuelle worked as a mate on the sailing ship Southern Star for several months in Svalbard in 2006. Martin came for several years as head of the French scientific base in Ny-Alesund. Although it is difficult to compare landscapes with distant memories, it is unfortunately obvious that the retreat of the glaciers is rapid and visible (the King's Glacier has retreated by 3 km in 10 years according to scientists). When you consider that 57% of the area is made up of glaciers and that Svalbard is the place in the world with the greatest temperature increases, this is extremely worrying.

• This type of expedition always involves a good dose of the unexpected: that's what makes them so interesting and challenging? Is there a particular moment that stands out in your mind?

The breakdown of our main generator, necessary for the use of our watermaker, certainly made the comfort on board the WHY "challenging"...and forced us to be very economical with water. In spite of this, we kept a great atmosphere and energy, the team really invested in making the program a success. The encounter with the wildlife of Svalbard and the breathtaking landscapes also offered us some nice surprises such as polar bears, walruses, seals, foxes, whales, reindeer... Finally, the days spent in the north of Spitsbergen, the navigation in the middle of the ice and the uncertain dives in a region where the maps are imprecise are all moments that remind us how rare underwater exploration is there. Each of these observations was a reminder that even if the conditions are sometimes difficult, it is an immense privilege to navigate and dive in these regions of our planet. 

MESOPHOTIC CORAL ECOSYSTEMS MIGHT BE
CRUCIAL FOR THE CONSERVATION OF CORAL REEFS?

A new scientific paper, based on diving studies carried out during the DEEPHOPE program and conducted in collaboration between CNRS / CRIOBE and UNDER THE POLE, reveals that coral diversity is unexpectedly higher in the mesophotic range (40-60m) than in shallow reefs. Indeed, this mid-zone hosts coral assemblages typical of both ranges, the shallow and deep reefs; thus, it could act as a safeguard of biodiversity.

At the same time, while the diversity of shallow reefs is similar among islands, the diversity of mesophotic reefs differs from site to site. These pioneering findings challenge our perception of conservation needs.

New insights emerge from this work: effective coral reef conservation requires considering mesophotic depths along with site-specific measures..
 
This is particularly relevant in the light of ever-increasing human pressures and climate change effects, which seem to be less severe with increasing depth.
 
Read the full scientific article in the journal Diversity and Distributions

➡️ https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ddi.13549?af=R

Lorenzo BRAMANTI interview
after 1 month of expedition in Svalbard

DEEPLIFE scientific co-directeur & CNRS/LECOB researcher, Lorenzo BRAMANTI answers our questions on marine animal forests and looks back at the first discoveries of the expedition. (In French) 

EMMANUELLE & GHISLAIN INTERVIEW
AFTER 2 WEEKS OF SCIENTIFIC EXPEDITION IN SVALBARD

How is this return to the polar zone going?

It seemed logical to start UNDER THE POLE IV • DEEPLIFE in the Arctic. It is not the easiest option because it requires specific logistics and polar diving remains a difficult and tiring practice. Especially in our study area, which involves deep dives (here, 80-100m) and long dives. But the automatisms linked to work and life in the polar zone quickly return.

From a scientific point of view, we are in unknown territory. Very few dives have been made in these regions, especially when you move away from the bases, and there is no information on what is found below 20-30 meters. But this is also what makes this mission exciting, one of those where you get back to exploration by adding a scientific dimension to it.

Beyond the mission, we deeply love these regions which, like magnets, always make us return to them. Here, there is no internet connection, few human traces, a harsh climate but great lights and scenery, and the privilege of witnessing a raw and wild world. 

- After 15 days of expedition, what are the first discoveries you have made, or the first difficulties you have encountered? 

Our objective is to find small Arctic marine animal forests and to study the biodiversity of the animals that structure them (engineer species) as well as the animals that live in the forest (fish, invertebrates, etc.). This is even more interesting in the polar region as climate change effects are rapid and significant. The glacier at the bottom of King's Bay, where we are currently diving, has retreated by nearly 4 km in 15 years. The data collected will make it possible in the future to monitor the evolution of the sites studied. 

This first one month loop is mainly dedicated to the prospecting of sites with Lorenzo Bramanti, deep diver, research director at CNRS and scientific co-director of DEEPLIFE. So far, we have found a small arctic animal forest that we would more accurately describe as "gardens" composed of anemones. Many species of sponges are also present.

We made the choice to arrive early in the season in order to avoid the "plankton bloom" as much as possible and to benefit from a better visibility in the water, but the downside is a colder and very windy period. However, these organisms often thrive in exposed areas, with current, which makes us dependent on the weather. Each dive requires a lot of energy from the whole crew to prepare the suits, to equip the divers, to thaw the equipment and to maintain it, to inflate the tanks... We have to find the necessary balance between the intense rhythm of the work while preserving the tiredness of the group. 

How does one go from writing the project to realizing it? 

That's the magic of an expedition. There is a world of difference between writing a project and carrying it out in the field. There are logistical pitfalls, financial difficulties, and the unforeseen which is everywhere like the air which does not like a vacuum! It is an ecosystem that allows UNDER THE POLE to exist, a crew that is much larger than the one that is ultimately on the WHY. Partners who, through their trust, allow us to carry out this research, a team on land and in the field whose investment in time and energy goes beyond the framework of simple work, scientists who ask questions and process samples, analyse photos and publish scientific articles once the expedition is over. 

Do you have a story to tell us? 

In Ny-Alesund, the scientific base in King's Bay, we met Tommy Jegou, who is currently a logistician for the AWIPEV (Franco-German base). Tommy was on a civic service mission at UNDER THE POLE in 2018 and participated in the whole CAPSULE mission in Moorea. He arrived a month ago in Svalbard where he will spend a year. It was really nice to see him on the dock when we arrived and to meet him on board. For two hours, he guided us through the buildings and scientific installations of the base, explaining the functioning, the scientific protocols and the cohabitation between the different nationalities present.

Such a reunion on the boundaries of the world!

The WHY back to the Arctic ice pack

20220418_UTP_EM_60

After almost three years in the Pacific waters, we had almost forgotten. The cold. The humidity. The bad weather. The snow. The condensation inside. The stove that backs up and smokes us when we close the lazarette door. The filter under the sink that has to be cleaned before and after washing the dishes. The doubt that creeps in when trying on Robin and Tom's TPS (survival suit) - "is this really sensible?" - and the feeling of being in our place as soon as we find ourselves out in the open. Putting on four layers of clothing before going on watch. But also the day that stretches on and on. The low-angled light and the fulmar petrels hovering over a golden ocean. The satisfaction of feeling the WHY vibrate under sail. The gradual appearance of the first patches of pack ice. The sound of ice on the hull. All these details that are so many emotions and that come back by little touches until they are familiar to us again. These few days before the WHY becomes our "home" again.

For this northern convoy, we embarked a particular crew, the team of "the office" of Concarneau, the ones who make Under The Pole exists daily. Neither sailors nor professional divers, they are responsible for logistics, scientific coordination, communication, administrative management, awareness, and sponsorship. And to carry out these difficult and sometimes thankless tasks, we are convinced that it is necessary to be nourished by the ground. So we decided to make this crossing from Tromsø to the Svalbard archipelago together. We still had to seize the weather window allowing us to go up in this first half of April, which is quite early in the season. Despite the cold, the wind, the sea, and the seasickness, the crew was enthusiastic and willing, taking the watches, helping in the kitchen and for the maneuvers.

The success of an expedition depends on a sum of accomplished missions, for the discovery, the science, the image, and the awareness. But these successes and the memories that will remain are conditioned by the atmosphere on board. The chemistry that is created. And on Thursday night, when we were all on deck to watch the WHY make its way through the ice floes, we could see in the crew’s eyes the emotion that is specific to the discovery of the polar regions. This magnetism which, despite the harshness of the climate, makes us want to come back again and again.

In a few days, the "expedition" team will arrive in Longyearbyen to start the dives dedicated to the scientific program on the marine animal forests of the mesophotic zone. But it is this small and heterogeneous team that will have led the WHY to its destination. At 78°16 North exactly!

Emmanuelle & Ghislain

UNDER THE POLE IV • DEEPLIFE • 2021-2030 RECOGNIZED AS AN
OFFICIAL PROJECT OF THE "OCEAN DECADE"

We are proud to let you know thatUNDER THE POLE IV • DEEPLIFE • 2021-2030 is officially recognized as an officiel project of the United Nations Decade of ocean sciences for sustainable development (the "Ocean Decade" project), coordinated by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.

The mission of the Ocean Decade is to develop solutions based on ocean sciences for sustainable development, creating the link between mens and ocean.

Travelling around the world, carried out by the French National Centre for Scientific Research and a consortium of international scientists,UNDER THE POLE IV • DEEPLIFE • 2021-2030 project will contribute to:
– Collecting the knowledge necessary to understand the effects of multiple stress factors on the underwater animal forests of the mesophotic zone (30-200 m of depth),
– Developing solutions to protect, manage and restore habitats and biodiversity,
 Highlighting the invaluable value of the ocean and the ressources it provides.
 
The scientific directors of the project are Laëtitia Hedouin (French National Centre for Scientific Research / French Island Research Center and Environmental Observatory) and Lorenzo Bramanti (French National Centre for Scientific Research / French Laboratory of Ecogeochemistry of Benthic Environments).For any further information related to the program, please contact our scientific coordinator Myrina Boulais: myrina@underthepole.com.
 
Thank to all of our sponsors and partners who have confidence in us, and without whom our awareness and research programs would just not be possible.

GO ON AN EXPEDITION WITH UNDER THE POLE
"BETWEEN TWO WORLDS" BOOK RELEASE IN OCTOBER

It is a pleasure to share the story in pictures of these four years of underwater exploration of the mesophotic zone, from the Arctic to French Polynesia, as well as the CAPSULE program.

A book written by Emmanuelle and Ghislain Bardout, published by Ulmer editions, photos taken by Franck Gazzola and a preface written by François Gabart and Virginie Valentini-Gabart. Thank you all for your contribution.

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Data Protection Act of 6 January 1978 : the undersigned is informed that his personal data will be collected and processed electronically by the Club. This data will be stored by the UNDER THE POLE for administrative purposes for a period of 3 years. The undersigned is informed of his right of access, communication and rectification, in case of data proven inaccuracy as well as his right to oppose the processing and / or publication of his data for legitimate reasons. To do so, simply send an email to the following address: contact@underthepole.com