ITW : David Monmarché, Divemaster

© Yann Chavance / Fondation Tara Expéditions

25 August 2016

During this 2-year expedition to the Pacific, hundreds of dives will take place from Tara’s deck. The crucial issues of logistics and security have been organized from the beginning by David Monmarché, divemaster, whom everyone aboard has nicknamed “Monch”. “My middle name!”, he jokes.

 

monch
© David Hannan / OceanArkAlliance

 

What is your background and how did you arrive on Tara

It all started with a meeting in Lorient! But first of all I’ve had state-issued scuba diving certification for 14 years. I was a diving instructor in a Corsican school, and then in Tignes (Savoie) teaching under-ice diving. For years I followed the seasons – winter in Tignes, then summer in Corsica and also in Brittany. In the winter of 2015, I decided to stop doing the winter season and enrolled in a sailing program. I obtained the Captain 200 certificate to complement my diver’s qualifications. In Lorient where I was teaching some courses, I met the Tara team and heard about the future Tara Pacific expedition. I then sent them my application. At the time Tara was in dry dock being overhauled. First I helped with the renovation work, from January to April, preparing the boat; then I boarded in Panama for the first dives over a period of 3 months. I will remain on board until Papeete in early November 2016 and will re-embark in July 2017.

 

What is your work on board?

I take care of equipment maintenance and provide divers with the material they’ll need before a dive. After each dive, I refill the scuba tanks in preparation for subsequent dives. During the dive, all divers, scientists and cameramen are autonomous under the surface. My role is to ensure diver safety from the tender-boat which takes them to the sampling sites and to see that the planned dive time is respected. I also dive myself to collect plankton samples for the Roscoff Biology Station. Last but not least, when we’re sailing, I take care of maintenance and inventory of equipment, and of course I participate in maneuvers and life on board, like all sailors.
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What goes on during this expedition?

The team members here are diving professionally, for their work. They’re experienced and autonomous. So there’s less supervising to do, even for occasional recreational dives with artists-in-residence or on board correspondents. On an expedition like this, the dives are consecutive: 2 groups in the morning and 2 in the afternoon, one for coral and the other for plankton — so we have to be especially vigilant. The dives are limited to 2 per day and per person, and when there are deep dives with potential risks, we deploy a re-compression chamber on deck to be ready in case of problems. Once the scientists are in the water, between the instructions I’ve given them, the choice of site and external conditions such as currents and waves, I am directly responsible.

Interview by Yann Chavance

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