Manon Fossat 10:30 a.m., January 20, 2022, modified at 10:31 a.m., January 20, 2022

An exploration mission carried out in partnership with UNESCO enabled a scientist and an underwater explorer to discover a coral reef in the heart of the Pacific.

Located in French Polynesia, this reef could well be one of the deepest in the world, in an unequaled state of conservation.

A few weeks ago, an exploration mission discovered one of the largest virgin coral reefs in the world, in French Polynesia.

This unique reef, tens of meters deep, extends over several hectares.

This project "1 Ocean, the great testimony on the Ocean", was carried out in partnership with UNESCO, scientist Laeticia Hedouin and photographer diver Alexis Rosenfeld.

Invited to Europe Matin on Thursday, the explorer returned to this mission which began last November off the coast of Tahiti.

And he marveled at the beauty of this discovery. 

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"For the underwater visitor that I am, it is an indescribable joy to discover, to encounter this reef, this field of roses. Because it is its particularity, this reef looks like giant roses that dot the bottom of the ocean on hectares and hectares, and of which we do not know the limits”, he described, insisting on its depth.

"In people's minds, the coral reef is a few meters below the surface. And we have noticed for a few years that there are much deeper reefs, which live between shadow and light. And the extent can go up to 100 meters deep, so it opens up all the mysteries of this ecosystem."

© @alexis.rosenfeld

20% of the mapped ocean

Alexis Rosenfeld also clarified that this reef is in very good health.

“It passed through the various bleaching, aggression and warming phases of 2017 and 2019,” he continued.

As for the new technologies dedicated to scuba diving, in particular rebreathers, he considered that it is thanks to their use that it is possible to stay longer under water, deeper and without risk.

"This is what allows exploration and this openness to deep exploration allows us to better understand certain ecosystems that have until now been little visited."

© @alexis.rosenfeld

What you need to learn from this discovery for the photographer is that the ocean is only 20% mapped.

"Yet we know the surface of the Moon and Mars perfectly well," said Alexis Rosenfeld.

"So before talking about mining or oil exploitation, let's think about exploring, understanding, studying. And we'll see in twenty years whether it's not better to do something other than exploit."