A diver watches an emperor penguin as it swims nearby. The brown patches above are microalgae, which cling to sea ice and photosynthesize in the spring.
Pictures: Mysterious Deep-Sea Life Below Antarctica
In the deepest dive ever beneath Antarctic ice, thriving plants and animals are captured on camera.
In an expedition unlike any other, National Geographic photographer Laurent Ballesta took a cold, harsh plunge below the sea ice in the deepest dive ever under Antarctica.
In October 2015, the beginning of spring in the southern hemisphere, Ballesta joined a small team for a 36-day excursion beginning at the Dumont d’Urville, the French scientific base on the Adélie Coast of East Antarctica. The trek took place as ice began to break up, allowing Ballesta and his team to break through 10-foot-thick ice and dive down as deep as 230 feet.
Ballesta, who’s worked for decades as a deep-diving photographer, previously dived to 400 feet off South Africa to photograph rare coelacanths, and in French Polynesia, he dived for 24