10 beautiful and thought-provoking pictures of the oceans to remind us all what’s at stake

Sir David Attenborough recently said 'The oceans power of regeneration is remarkable — if we just offer it the chance.' It effects every living thing on earth — from the air we breathe, to the weather and climate — and it's never been more at stake than it is now.

The May 19 issue of Country Life is our sustainability special issue, and as we’ve researched and written the articles within it’s been heartening to see so many examples of companies behaving more sustainably. It’s something that even The Prince of Wales alludes to in the article in turning Sandringham organic: ‘Sustainable business and profitable business are one and the same,’ he said.

Not all companies work the land, however, but among those that don’t it’s hugely encouraging to see some, like Blancpain, going a little further. The watch company has a scheme, the Blancpain Ocean Commitment, which sees it sponsoring oceanographers’ efforts to help understand the underwater world and their incredible ecosystems better. They’ve been involved with protecting the ocean for sixty years, helping spread the word to help raise awareness, and have supported major scientific expeditions such as the Pristine Seas Expeditions and Laurent Ballesta’s Gombessa Expeditions, which ‘studying the rarest, most elusive creatures and phenomena on the earth.’

The astonishing pictures taken on these missions show the fragile beauty of the oceans that we’re trying to protect, whilst also reminding us of the vastly uncharted world beneath the surface that is home to some of the most beautiful, fascinating and unique creatures on this planet.

Let’s dive in.

The Gombessa expedition in the deep Mediterranean: The 5m2 saturation complex.

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The Gombessa V expedition in the Mediterranean enabled four divers to ‘undergo an unprecedented experience’ by spending a total of 28 days in a 5m2 saturation complex, leaving each day to explore a 100m pocket of ocean.

The winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the year 2017, taken by Laurent Ballesta of an iceberg during the Gombessa Antartica expedition

During the third Gombessa expedition in 2015 in Antartica, the mission focused on the impact of global warming on the polar region. It was pioneering for both diving and photography, delivering the ‘first naturalist images of Antartica’s deep-sea ecosystems’.

South Africa: A Coelacanth, otherwise known as a Gombessa

This rare fish, one thought to have become extinct 70 million years ago, was discovered, very much alive, in 1938 and represents ‘one of the most important zoological discoveries of the 20th century.’

Underwater giants during the Gombessa V scientific expedition in the Mediterranean

Picarel nests during the Gombessa V Mediterranean expedition

As part of an ongoing two year study, Blancpain is supporting a scientific mission by Laurent Ballesta and Andromede Oceanologie into the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the marine biodiversity on the Mediterranean coast after a sharp decrease of human activities in the area.

A diver during an expedition in San Felix

Blancpain is the presenting partner of World Ocean’s Day 2021 

‘The mysteries of Mont La Perouse’

Lives and Livelihoods, an image from the World Ocean’s Day 2021 photo competition