Written by Selena DiGiovanni
Last April, naturalist and diver Laurent Ballesta teamed up with a crew of researchers and the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms in search of a creature long forgotten at the bottom of the ocean off the coast of South Africa. The Gombessa.
The Gombessa (or coelacanth) is a large sea-dweller which has been incredibly controversial since 1938, when one was found alive. In fact, it was believed that the Gombessa had gone extinct somewhere around 70 million years ago. The creature was thought to be the missing link between fish and land animals, having lobe fins which extend from it’s body like legs and an incredibly primitive, non-functioning, lung.
Aside from size (approximately six feet long) and lifespan (up to 60 years), little was known about the Gombessa due to it’s elusiveness and dwindling population. However, with new research, Ballesta and his crew of researchers, scientists, and divers were able to determine the location of the Gombessa. Ballesta and his divers dove 120 meters below sea level to Jesser Canyon caves in order to locate this amazing creature. Once the Gombessa was located, Ballesta and his crew began research techniques which they had created in advance of their expedition.
Since 1953 and the creation of their first dive watch in the Fifty Fathoms collection, Blancpain has been a strong supporter of dive expeditions. Blancpain’s support of major scientific explorations has included the “Pristine Seas Expeditions with Blancpain”, a pairing with National Geographic.
To learn more about the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms used on the Gombessa Expedition, visit www.blancpain.com.