The French city of Cannes is best known for its beautiful beaches and the annual film festival which it will host in one week. Stars from all over the world will come to Cannes to celebrate their work and enjoy the glamorous festival.
Yet only a few hundred yards away from the glamour, things look different: Last month, French diver Laurent Lombard uploaded a video shot with an underwater camera which shows the pollution on the floor of the Mediterranean Sea.
The one-minute video has been watched nearly 3 million times so far. It shows bottles and other garbage which was dumped into the French riviera.
A quelques centaines de mètres des plus beaux palaces Cannois...tout va bien, la mer est propre..!Posted by Laurent Lombard on Monday, April 13, 2015
"Just a few hundred meters from the most beautiful Cannes palace. Everything is good, the sea is clean...," the video's deeply ironic caption reads.
According to news site The Local, Lombard explained his intentions in making the video in an interview with French news channel BFM TV. "I wanted to show people the consequences of what they do on land," he reportedly said. "When you throw things on the street, like papers, cigarette butts, or bottles, it all ends up in the sea."
French Facebook commentators reacted outraged: "What horror," one person wrote. Another viewer wrote: "Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg."
Whereas the footage will be used for educational purposes in school, the city of Cannes refuses to take the blame. The Local quoted city official Marie Pourreyon as saying that the video did not fairly represent the "the cleanliness of the bay, nor the Mediterranean sea."
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the Mediterranean Sea is nevertheless among the world's most sensitive waters threatened by pollution. Because many parts of the sea are landlocked, water renewal takes much longer than in other parts of the world.
Cannes is hardly the only city which is close to heavily polluted parts of the Mediterranean Sea, as this map by the U.N. Environmental Program shows. On this map, Cannes is to the north of the Ligurian Sea.
The E.U. has previously taken steps to fight pollution in the Mediterranean, for instance by establishing the "Horizon 2020" program.
"(We want to tackle) the sources of pollution that account for around 80 percent of the overall pollution of the Mediterranean Sea: municipal waste, urban waste water and industrial pollution," E.U. representative Michael Scoullos was quoted as saying in an E.U. leaflet.
Videos such as the one published by Lombard will likely raise doubts over the success of past E.U. initiatives.