Greg Lecœur

The sea at heart

Underwater photographer Greg Lecœur immerses you beneath the Mareterra construction site in his exhibition at the Galerie des Pêcheurs. The show, which runs until the autumn, is an ideal opportunity to (re)discover the work of an artist who is committed to marine conservation.

Photojournalist Greg Lecœur wants to raise public awareness about protecting underwater ecosystems.

Greg Lecœur’s 25 large-format photographs at the Galerie des Pêcheurs in Monaco are captivating. The photographer has dived under the site of the new Mareterra offshore extension to record the shelters that have been set up for wildlife, from coral villages to artificial sea urchins. “It will be interesting to see how the fish and coral proliferate over time. Today, nature is just beginning to reclaim its rights,” says the self-taught wildlife photographer, who wants to return every year to follow the development of these refuges.

Crabeater seals swim around icebergs. 2020 UPY Underwater Photographer of the Year.

The “Big Blue” generation
Born in Nice, Lecœur grew up with the adventures of Jacques Cousteau and belongs to a generation inspired by Luc Besson’s influential film The Big Blue, together with freedivers Pierra Frolla and Guillaume Néry. “The film fired our imaginations. It made us want to explore this silent world.” Lecœur is a marine biology enthusiast and an avid freediver, which he says “is incredibly liberating”, and began scuba diving at the age of 20 during a trip to La Réunion. He soon bought a camera so he could visually record his encounters with black dolphins and pilot whales, and became a witness to biodiversity under threat. At 32, he made a life-changing decision: to walk away from his life as an entrepreneur and follow his passion. “I qualified as a diving instructor, sold my company in France and set off on a journey around the world for a year.” From the Galapagos to Indonesia, by way of the Bahamas – which attracted him because of his fascination with sharks – the globetrotter crisscrossed the planet with his camera. During his trip, he developed his photographic style, working on his wildlife portraits and unique shade of blue. “Animals express their personality and emotions through their behaviour,” says Lecœur, who is prepared to spend hours underwater waiting for the right moment. “Animals can be wild, fast or shy, and the shooting conditions can be extreme, with poor visibility or bad weather conditions. You have to be very patient and seize the slightest opportunity because it doesn’t always happen a second time.”When he returned, he sold “these next generation images” to the French and international press. He won first prize in the World Underwater Image Festival in 2015, and was named Photographer of the Year by National Geographic in 2016 and 2020.

Cape gannets dive among dolphins to catch sardines as they migrate. 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.

“Everyone must act”
The author of several books (including Oceans: Face to Face, with Pierre Frolla, and Antarctica, on his polar expedition with Guillaume Nery), this committed photojournalist aims to “touch people’s hearts” and raise public awareness about protecting underwater ecosystems. In Antarctica, where he encounters the famous leopard seals, he shows how “global warming disrupts life cycles (for example the reproduction of penguins), leads to melting ice, and impacts atmospheric pressure and winds. If we want a sustainable future for our children, each one of us must act to create change.” Lecœur, who is father to an eight-month-old baby, now wants to show the Mediterranean sea as it has never been seen. “This sea has a bad reputation.
I want to improve its image. The Mediterranean sea deserves it…”.