Theme: "The Tropics"

Pacific Ocean - French Polynesia - Fakarava atoll - Biosphere reserve. View on the heavenly coasts with coconut trees and white sand.The General Assembly of the United Nations has declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
Every month throughout 2017, Nausicaa wants to examine in depth, an aspect of sustainable development. From Saturday 8 July to Sunday 3 September 2017, Nausicaa will explore the theme of the tropics.
Nausicaa has decided to adopt this theme in order to show that everyone can consider sustainable tourism in their consumer and leisure choices. Its actions can be made meaningful and genuine through activities that encourage conservation of marine environments and help to increase our knowledge of the ocean, marine areas, climate or human activities associated with the sea.
Sustainable tourism for development enables us to understand how, in some parts of the world and especially in the tropics, mankind lives in harmony with the biodiversity that surrounds it and makes use of resources.

Discover the tropics at Nausicaa 

This theme will give you an opportunity to discover or rediscover areas and iconic species such as the humphead wrasse or the nurse shark, or some even more surprising ones such as the Periophthalmus or garden eel, helping to raise the issue of sustainable tourism in the tropics.
Nausicaa's handlers feed the creatures around the lagoon and the mangrove several times a week. The mangrove activity will raise your awareness of this little-known ecosystem. Beside the coral reef flat and the pool where the sharks live, Nausicaa has recreated a real tourist complex which could be found somewhere in the Indo-Pacific Ocean. The lagoon is the expanse of seawater which is separated and protected from the high sea by a coral barrier.

Once you have taken part in the various activities and recognised each species, you are invited to test their knowledge by taking part in a special "Sustainable tourism in the tropics" quiz in the Nausicaa TV studio.
Nausicaa's educational service also offers activities for groups of children or leisure centres on the theme of the tropics.

The mangrove: a model of sustainable tourism development

Close to the mouths of rivers and in deltas, a special type of vegetation which is well adapted to brackish water advances towards the sea: mangroves. These strange trees intermingle their aerial roots and take hold in the mud. They live in the tidal zone and are home to extraordinary fauna which finds shelter and food in them. They are also a nursery for juveniles, who enter the sea once they have grown up.
Mangroves, which are a vital ecosystem for the oceans and the planet, are found in the tropics. Sustainable tourism for development enables us to understand how, in certain parts of the world and the tropics in particular, mankind lives in harmony with the biodiversity that surrounds it and makes use of resources.

Here are the new arrivals in Nausicaa's mangrove:

Land Hermit Crab (Coenobita rugosus)The land hermit crab lives on coasts from East Africa to the Pacific. Like all hermit crabs, it hides its soft body in a borrowed shell. It has an average length of 1 to 2 cm.
It is an omnivorous detritus eater. Some 70% of its food is plant-based; the remaining 30% consists of meat. Hermit crabs are gregarious animals. They live in colonies in humid zones between beaches and the edge of forest areas. They feed at night and are capable of extracting water from sand if it is sufficiently saturated.


Atlantic mudskipper (Periophtalmus barbarus)The Atlantic mudskipper
is endemic to mangroves. It lives in mud, rocks and between the roots of the buttonwood trees.
It is an amphibious creature, capable of living in and out of water. It can submerge itself or emerge totally.
When not in the water, it breathes using special cavities in its gills which enable it to store water and provide oxygen through capillary vessels in its mouth and throat. It can also walk or jump on mud using its fins.
Its eyes suit its lifestyle. Positioned on the top of its head, they enable the animal to see in all directions.

Khao stick insect (Phaenopharos khaoyaiensis)Khao stick insects are unusual creatures that can camouflage themselves easily thanks to their elongated body resembling a blade of grass or a stick.
They are capable of parthenogenesis, a form of single-parent reproduction. In the absence of males, the females can lay viable eggs but they will produce only females.
The stick insect is an herbivore, nibbling leaves with its powerful jaws, known as mandibles. In captivity, the Khao stick insect feeds on leaves from brambles, roses, raspberry canes, blackcurrants or St. John’s wort.

Since 2017, a new species that lives in tropical waters has been on display in Nausicaa's"Island Stories" exhibition:the spotted heteroconger.

Spotted heteroconger (Heteroconger hassi)The spotted heteroconger (Heteroconger hassi) lives on seagrass beds or sandy bottoms in the Red Sea and the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific. Its burrow, in the shape of a vertical tube, is dug at a depth of between 7 and 45 metres on sandy slopes which are exposed to currents but sheltered from waves. It feeds mainly on plankton. It can reach between 35 and 40 cm in length. The spotted garden eel lives in colonies of dozens or even hundreds of individuals. It stands upright with its tail anchored in the burrow into which it retreats when danger approaches. Adults are sedentary and never leave the coasts, but their larvae, which are known as leptocephali, allow themselves to be carried along by currents and can travel in the open sea for several months in search of a suitable sandy seabed where they can start a new colony.


For 25 years, the nurse shark, which is also found in tropical waters, has been on display in Nausicaa's"Open Sea" pool together with the humphead wrasse.

Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum)The nurse shark, also known as the sleeper shark, lives at the bottom and on the slopes in shallow tropical waters, from the intertidal zone to a depth of 130 metres, in the intertropical coastal zone of the Atlantic and the eastern Pacific. The nurse shark is ovoviviparous, which means that the eggs hatch inside the female’s stomach, where the young sharks continue to grow. They are expelled when they measure approximately 25-30 cm. A single female can give birth to approximately 30 individuals. It feeds on bony fish, rays, invertebrates (urchins, crustaceans, cephalopods, etc.) as well as algae and carrion.
Nausicaa's sleeper shark is a female which is 2.30 metres long. Her age is estimated to be nearly 30; she is one of Nausicaa's oldest pensioners.

humphead wrasse  (Cheilunus undulatus)The humphead wrasse frequents coral reefs at depths of up to 100 metres and prefers drop-offs and outer slopes; juveniles prefer to live in branching lagoon corals.
The humphead wrasse, which has powerful teeth, feeds mainly on molluscs and hard-shelled invertebrates. It also has no difficulty in ingesting toxic prey such as venomous sea urchins, Acanthaster planci starfish or trunkfish.
It is one of the biggest reef fish and can grow to a length of 229 cm and weigh up to 191 kg!


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