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A race against time to save cave art


Archaeologists and divers are working frantically in an undersea cavern near Marseille, trying to preserve the only known prehistoric cave paintings of marine life before climate change and rising waters destroy them forever.

The cavern, found about 30 years ago in the Calanques area along the Mediterranean, is being reproduced on dry land for future visitors and researchers, just as was done with the famed Lascaux cavern which gave the world its fullest view of early art and life.

At the Cosquer cavern, reachable only through a 137-metre long natural tunnel that enters a cavern 37 metres below the waterline, around 600 signs, images and carvings have been found on the cavern walls, some of lifeforms never seen before.

When the drawings were made, the cavern is estimated to have been about 10km inland and the sea is believed to have been about 135 meters lower than today. It's believed to have been occupied by humans for several thousand years, starting about 33,000 years ago.

A sudden five-inch rise in sea level in 2011 coupled with incremental climate change have left researchers rushing to complete the task.

Image: workers at construction site of replica cave

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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