PAX ARCTICA is organizing the CORAL LIBRE Expedition in July 2017 in CUBA. The goal of the Expedition, organized in partnership with Scripps Institution of Oceanography and University of Sydney is to document the health of coral reefs in Cuba. This eco-scientific adventure will serve as the basis for a docufiction film which will cover both the expedition at sea as well as subsequent on-land developments.


Research Plan

The main goal of the expedition will be to document the baseline health of the major coral reef ecosystems of Cuba. This will involve using high-resolution photography and cutting edge 3D photomosaic technology of the reefs that will be analyzed using recently developed automated machine learning methods on our Coral Net platform ( These photographic surveys will provide important data on coral reef health by providing data on living coral cover, coral diversity, macro algae cover, coral disease and mortality. This data will be critical for the informed conservation of Cuban coral reefs. The research team will be led by coral reef ecologist and Scripps Project Scientist David Kline. It will also include Oscar Pizarro and Nader Boutros from the Australian Centre for Field Robotics at the University of Sydney.

Film Synopsis

This docufiction film will be directed by Philippe Azoulay. It focuses on two young women, battered by life, who meet in Cuba. They encounter incredible characters, discover an unexpected world and share a transformative journey in a country where ‘joie de vivre’ trumps life’s difficulties. During a scientific expedition on a dive boat, the coral reef research team (David Kline, Oscar Pizarro and a graduate student) meet Johanna, the inquisitive young cook on the research vessel. The film will follow her daily journey on the boat as well as the island of Cuba. We will share and discover this young woman’s experience, as she struggles in an unknown world. After a night of partying, she misses the departure of the research vessel and finds herself stranded in Havana. Alone with little money, she meets another young woman, who is also going through an existential crisis. Their friendship and shared adventure lead them to a wake-up call, where they question what is important in their lives and contemplate love and happiness. The film is a journey between land and sea, yesterday and tomorrow, rational and irrational. A search for meaning, where the need to live in harmony with man and nature becomes a quest for both the young women and the audience.


The marine ecosystems of Cuba are largely undocumented and unknown but are vital to the economy and sustenance of the large coastal communities of Cuba. They are likely some of the healthiest remaining Caribbean coral reefs with large populations of sharks, groupers and other large top predators. These reefs represent a largely untapped source of revenue relating to ecotourism, sustainable fisheries and bioprospecting. However most of these important benefits will be lost if overfishing and unsustainable development degrade these critical marine ecosystems. Without a baseline of the health and biodiversity of the marine ecosystems of Cuba it will not be possible to substainably manage and protect these ecosystems from the rapid economic and social development already occurring with the recent thaw in US-Cuba relations. A series of expeditions will be planned to determine the baseline ecosystem conditions of the coral reefs of Cuba. In this first mission we will focus on the coral reefs of Jardines de la Reina, one of the most spectacular Cuban coral reefs.


The team 

Luc Hardy is an entrepreneur, veteran adventurer, environmental advocate, photographer, author, film producer and member of the Explorers Club of New York. Luc graduated from Ecole Centrale Paris with an engineering degree. Through his company Sagax, Luc has been investing in and advising technology startups for over 30 years. He is Vice-President of Green Cross France & Territories, the environmental NGO founded by Mikhail Gorbachev. His curiosity for the world and his love of adventure stem from his origins in Brittany. He continues to travel extensively, photographing and reporting from remote places in order to raise awareness for global causes. His expeditions have included: Greenland (2007 and 2011) and the Canadian Arctic to study the effects of climate change; several Polar and Himalayan expeditions; and the North Pole in 2011. His books include: Antarctic Adventure (2004), Greenland Impressions (2007), Arctic Transitions (2008). He is also the producer of the documentary film The Pursuit of Endurance, which was released in April 2015, screened in numerous festivals worldwide as well as at the United Nations in New York on Sept 15. 2015. Luc lives in Connecticut and in France.

Dr. David I. Kline is an Associate Project Scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. He is a coral reef ecologist who studies the fate of coral reefs in a high carbon dioxide futureon molecular to ecosystem scales. In particular he collaborates with computer vision scientists, engineers, chemists and physiologists to develop new techniques for studying the impact of climate change on coastal ecosystems. He has led or co-authored over 45 high impact peer-reviewed publications with over 2000 citations. He studies the ecology of corals and reef communities, and how reefs will change under the plethora of stresses they face, both local (e.g. pollution and disease) and global (warming and ocean acidification). 

Philippe Azoulay is an appreciated documentary/film director. With experiences on stage, TV and in photography, he shot and directed various music videos and two documentaries before founding a film production company as an independent filmmaker: Rosebud Productions. This allowed him to direct several award-winning shorts, as well as producing and directing many documentaries broadcast worldwide. He subsequently founded another production company: Az You Like Films. He is also an environmentalist who took part in movements and events such as “One billion rising”, “Summit of Consciences” and “24 hr meditation for the ocean”.


If you want to help us for the Coral Libre project ...



Your contribution will help finance the expenses and fees associated with bringing three scientists from top-notch institutions to the expedition location as well as purchase and rent photographic and 3D-filming equipment.

  • SUPPORTER – for a contribution of US$1,000

  • PARTNER – for a contribution of $2,500

  • BENEFACTOR – for a contribution of $5,000

  • PATRON – for a contribution of $10,000

Your name will be mentioned as a SUPPORTER / PARTNER / BENEFACTOR / PATRON on the expedition page of Pax Arctica’s website (if you have a logo, your logo in the sponsors’ list will link to your website)
You will receive a commemorative book about the expedition (PARTNER and up)
You will receive a commemorative video short about the expedition (BENEFACTOR and up) and a CD of a selection of photos taken during the expedition and a framed picture autographed by the members of the team (PATRON and up)

  • SCIENCE SPONSOR – for a contribution of $25,000

Contribute to the cost of the scientific expedition (participation to fees, expenses, equipment, etc.)
All services as per above and:

  1. Prominent logo patch on our equipment and clothing

  2. Photograph of your flag on location

  3. Key note speech, projection of the Expedition’s film to private audience of your choice (dates and location to be agreed upon).



Associate PRODUCER  -  $25,000

Credit in the film to be produced after the Expedition.
Participation in the economics of the film at 2.5% level (pari passu with Sagax/Pax Arctica – but no copyright/ownership)

Executive PRODUCER  -  $50,000

Credit in the film to be produced after the Expedition.
Participation in the economics of the film at 5% level (pari passu with Sagax/Pax Arctica – but no copyright/ownership)

Please contact Luc Hardy at for any questions. For larger contributions, please contact: Please email at to organize for a personalized presentation.