Dive Into the Unknown: Exploring Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems in Bali

March 4, 2020, Sanur, Bali — CTC held its forth Talking Underwater Series event on March 4 featuring a public lecture entitled “Dive Into the Unknown: Exploring Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems in Bali.” The lecture was delivered by French marine biologist and National Geographic Explorer Alexis Chappuis, and was attended by more than 60 people composed of students, divers, partners, and residents in Bali.

Little is known about mesophotic, or low-light, coral ecosystems, which grow deeper than recreational diving limits of 30-40 meters. But as shallow-water coral ecosystems change and suffer from human actions, these deeper reefs may serve as a source of hope for replenishing degraded coral ecosystems.

During the lecture, Alexis discussed his pioneering research project on unexplored reef habitats off the northeast coast of Bali particularly in the Karangasem Regency. He described the beauty he found underwater, the threats they face, their importance for shallow-water reefs, as well as for species such as the bump-head sunfish or Mola alexandrini. He also made note of plastic pollution he found during his deep dives underscoring the need to include deepwater habitats in marine protection plans.

As a scientist specializing in the exploration and study of underwater ecosystems up to a depth of 120 meters, Alexis discussed the unique challenges faced when undertaking deepwater scientific dives as well as the training and precautions needed to be able to conduct his research, which is funded by the National Geographic Society and the Institut Français d’Indonésie. Alexis is also the founder of the French-based not-for-profit organization UNSEEN (Underwater Scientific Exploration for Education) and is currently working to expand his research on mesophotic coral ecosystems to other areas in Bali.

Photos by : Alexis Chappuis; Hendiliana/CTC