Ocean Talks 2024 Laurent Ballesta

20 images

Laurent Ballesta

All the highlights from Ocean Talks 2024

12 June 2024 • Written by Hannah Rankine

The seventh edition of Ocean Talks took place at The Serpentine North Gallery in London on 6 June 2024, the week leading up to World Oceans Day. Sponsored by Ocean Family Foundation (OFF), the event brought together the superyacht industry and leading names in ocean conservation for an evening of inspirational talks and networking.

This year’s event featured numerous exhibitors showcasing products and innovations in the ocean conservation sector. Three keynote speakers captivated the audience with their groundbreaking work in ocean conservation. BOAT rounds up the highlights of the event...

Connecting the superyacht sector with the forefront of ocean conservation

Dagmar Kessler with Louie Rigano and Gil Muller from SHORE
Chris Griffiths and Tim Heywood
Julie Joergensen, Henrietta Nicholson and William Nicholson
Salcombe Brewery Co. beer
The Hidden Sea wine
Who Gives a Crap tissues and toilet roll

Guests had the opportunity to meet and network with each other before and after the talks. Award-winning Salcombe Brewery provided the beer and environment-friendly Hidden Sea provided the wine. Guests also had the opportunity to take home tissue boxes and toilet rolls from the plastic-free brand Who Gives a Crap.

Lilly Barclay: time is running out

Lilly Barclay is a founding member of Ocean Talk’s sponsor Ocean Family Foundation (OFF), an organisation that supports existing or start-up conservation projects that have a positive impact on the ocean. Barclay gave an eye-opening speech at Ocean Talks on how time is of the essence when it comes to saving our environment and shared some hard-hitting facts.

Lilly Barclay

“In the past 100 years, we have lost 90 per cent of the large fish population.

“In the past 50 years, we have lost 70 per cent of the world’s wild animals.

“In the past 20 years, insects are down as much as 80 per cent across Europe.

“By 2045, marine scientists predict the destruction of our ocean will be complete.”

A natural optimist, Barclay shared her hope and urged guests to engage with the event’s speakers to grasp the vital importance of their work.

David Lang: empowering amateurs

Entrepreneur and author David Lang serves as the executive director of the Experiment Foundation, an organisation that helps fund small ocean conservation start-ups. Before this, he played a key role in founding Sofar Ocean Technologies and OpenROV, specialising in underwater drones that map the ocean floor. He is the author of book Zero to Maker: How To Re-Skill Yourself  For The New Maker Economy and a Senior TED Fellow, giving TED talks on ocean technology and conservation.

David Lang

Lang demonstrated to Ocean Talks guests how amateur hobbyists have played a key role in scientific discovery. “I love start-ups. The amateurs are always the ones who find the future first," he said.

“Tom Mueller built a liquid fuel rocket in his garage before Elon Musk hired him as the first employee at SpaceX. Elon didn’t go to Boeing and the big companies, he went to the amateur. The advice is very simple: watch the amateurs.

“Now I am paying it forward. I am spending a lot of my time supporting new entrepreneurs.” 

Lang’s organisation, the Experiment Foundation, established a crowdfunding website, www.experiment.com, to give a helping hand to small brands. “We have given them $1 million in the past couple of years and we are just getting started.

“I’m finding that it is really important at the earlier stages to fan the flame of that amateur passion. I encourage you all to not just watch these amateurs' projects, but to become them yourselves.”

Matthieu Rytz: watch and learn

Matthieu Rytz is a Canadian filmmaker who has devoted his life's work to bringing environmental issues to light. At Ocean Talks, Rytz presented his latest work, Deep Rising, a film documentary that looks at the issue of deep seabed mining. “I think it is important to step back and understand that we don’t know our own planet,” Rytz said, and went on to talk about how his documentaries “bring stories to the masses”.

Matthieu Rytz

Rytz shared his latest project with the audience, The Twilight Zone Studio, which is the development of new camera technologies that will capture the deep oceans like never before. “What we are about to launch is very exciting,” he explained. “The deep-sea floor belongs to all of us, so we want to talk to humanity. We designed a digital platform so that people can dive to the sea floor and reclaim it on behalf of humanity for restoration and protection.

“This campaign might change the future of the deep ocean. Any help from the audience today would be very beneficial in getting this campaign going.”

Laurent Ballesta: unveiling the unknown

Award-winning French photographer Laurent Ballesta captivated Ocean Talks guests with breathtaking environmental photographs, showcasing rarely seen wildlife, including a giant lobster, illustrating how large these creatures can grow when not caught and eaten. Ballesta has established himself as one of the most important figures in underwater photography, contributing to National Geographic magazine and serving as an explorer for the National Geographic Society.

Laurent Ballesta

Explaining how he captures such photos and conducts his research, he said, “the secret is simple: you need more time underwater. My friend and I spent 3,500 hours doing the exact same dive every night for five years.” To achieve extended dives, new techniques and equipment are necessary. In 2008, Ballesta co-founded Andromède Océanologie, an exploration company conducting ecological surveys and restoration, employing 15 full-time scientists and divers. After years of refining the duration and depth of dives, Ballesta developed a new diving method, living in a saturation chamber on a floating barge and using an adjoining diving bell to reach deep diving spots.

Why is this technology so crucial? “Because there are unbelievable ecosystems down here,” Ballesta explained. “But I want to focus on one problem that we tried to solve, which is the Posidonia seagrass meadows.” 

Found in various bays along the French Riviera, Posidonia is a vital ecosystem providing oxygen to numerous underwater species and is continually destroyed by anchors dredging the seabed. Ballesta demonstrated this damage to local authorities, leading to protective laws regulating where superyachts can anchor along the French coastline. Consequently, mooring buoys have been implemented and an app called Donia was created, helping captains identify Posidonia locations and the best anchoring spots. Additionally, every summer, Ballesta and his team of divers replant Posidonia in areas where it has been destroyed.

“Conservation needs two things to be efficient. Of course, restoration is important, but exploration is also vital in order to witness what is still here and has to stay,” he concluded.


Ocean Family Foundation (OFF)

An organisation, founded by four sea-loving families, that seeks out and donates to existing or start-up marine- and ocean-orientated conservation projects.

Eva Mechler

Eva Mechler

This innovative manufacturer makes furniture from superyacht decking off-cuts. Eva Mechler showcased a beautiful hand-crafted chair made from natural wood at the event. Her work has been featured on a number of award-winning sailing and motor yachts.

Love Brand & Co.

Love Brand & Co.

Love Brand specialises in swimwear, shirts and polos for owners and crew. Inspired by the Bahamas, Love Brand’s entire product lifecycle focuses on sustainability and recycled materials.



Purified launched a zero-plastic shoe using materials supplied by NFW. Ocean Talks guests were able to view numerous designs at their stand and see the journey of making the shoes.



NLComp has built the world's first recyclable boat, proving that there is a valid alternative to traditional fibreglass. Guests at Ocean Talks could view some of the materials in the flesh.

Paper London

Paper London

This environmentally conscious fashion brand produces contemporary, yet classic, pieces with eco-friendly materials. The brand showcased their new Sunlit Escapes line from their Spring Summer collection at the event.



Rootfull is a material innovation company that develops a highly novel textile by guiding plant root to “weave” unique artefacts and surfaces, such as lamps, wall hangings or sculptures.



This design brand innovates in the field of ergonomic rugs, soft furnishings and footwear. At Ocean Talks, it exhbited rugs, stools and a lounge chair handwoven from high-performance materials.

Yachts for Science

Yachts for Science

Yachts for Science connects superyachts with marine scientists and researchers to provide access to the oceans. The organisation showcased their projects and science innovations via a screen and VR headset.

For more information about Ocean Talks, contact the BOAT International events team.

Sponsored listings