The General Assembly of the United Nations has proclaimed 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
Every month, throughout 2017, Nausicaa will be taking a closer look at a different aspect of sustainable tourism. From Wednesday 29 March to Wednesday 26 April 2017, Nausicaa's focus will be on marine mammals.
The coastline of the Hauts-de-France region is home to more than twenty species of marine mammals (seals, dolphins and even fin whales). Nausicaa is encouraging observation and recommending that people live in harmony with the biodiversity that surrounds them. With this in mind, the French National Sea Centre has posted a number of citizen science actions on its website: http://sciencesparticipatives.nausicaa.fr/.
The difference between seals and sea lions
At Nausicaa, the seven sea lions are Californian sea lions (Zalophus californianus). In the wild, as their name suggests, they live in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, off the Californian West coast of America. The species is protected by the Washington convention. The pinniped group of marine mammals includes sea lions, walruses and seals.
Sea lions differ from seals. They have external ears (auricles), which seals do not. Sea lions move on all four flippers whereas seals flop along the ground. Sea lions use their front flippers to propel themselves through the water whereas seals use their back flippers like paddles.
The Coordination Mammalogique du Nord de la France (CMNF)
Set up in 1993, the CMNF is an environmental protection association that is particularly concerned with wild mammals in the north of France.
Over the past few years, grey seals have become an increasingly common sight along the Opal Coast. Jacky KARPOUZOPOULOS, who heads the "Marine Mammals" section of the Coordination Mammalogique du Nord de la France, is studying the colony.
The association not only conducts surveys and monitors population numbers, it also raises public awareness and, where necessary, provides assistance for animals in danger. It cooperates with all the institutions and official agencies that require its expertise, one of them being Nausicaa, the French national sea centre.
Sea lions at Nausicaa
Of all the species of marine mammals, Nausicaa decided to show you Californian sea lions. In fact, Nausicaa's Californian Reserve has seven Californian sea lions, a species that was hunted by Man for many years. On the west coast of America, Californian sea lions were endangered. To protect them, America's Channel Islands were turned into a national park. The same environment has been recreated at Nausicaa .
You pass through a glass tunnel suspended in a million litres of water. The sea lions can be seen swimming beside them or beneath their feet. It’s like walking in the ocean – a unique feeling! Then comes the exploration stage. The main aim of nature reserves and marine parks along the coast is to maintain the condition of the environment and sustainably preserve the marine resources on which so many human activities depend. You can watch the sea lions at water level, in a Californian setting consisting of cliffs and wooden houses.
Every day from Wednesday 29 March to Wednesday 26 April 2017, Nausicaa is giving you a chance to watch a sea lion training session.
At Nausicaa, the sea lions are used to the presence of humans. Every day, they undergo medical training sessions designed to make it easier for handlers or vets to examine and treat the animals.
Nausicaa is a world leader in medical training and it has received various awards for this work at international conferences, particular for its presentation of voluntary training for endoscopy.
Other sessions show the animals’ ability to hunt and to escape from their main predator – great white sharks. This work is explained to you at daily performances.
Special programmes and a "Marine Mammals" quiz – Nausicaa's TV studio
From Wednesday 29 March to Wednesday 26th April 2017, as one of the special events about marine mammals, Nausicaa is giving you an opportunity to watch programmes on certain marine mammals such as sea lions, sperm whales and seals.
Then Nausicaa invites you to test yourknowledge of marine mammals by taking part in a special quiz. The visitor with the largest number of correct answers will win a "Behind the Scenes" DVD from Nausicaa or the CMNF comic book (Coordination Mammalogique du Nord de la France).
Thursday 6 to Sunday 23 April 2017 - Festival of Sea Imagery at Nausicaa
This year, the Festival of Sea Imagery is reflecting the topic of marine mammals by showing a number of films on the subject.
From Thursday 6 to Sunday 23 April 2017, Nausicaa will be hosting the 26 th Festival of Sea Imagery. It will be an exciting event. Festival goers will be able to see the most beautiful contemporary underwater images and meet famous filmmakers who are passionate about the marine world, including François Sarano, oceanographer, professional diver, scientific adviser to Commandant COUSTEAU and co-founder of the Longitude 181 association. For two weeks, you will be able to discover every aspect of our oceans through images, special events and meetings.
Detailed programme of the 2017 Festival of Sea Imagery