No need to travel to the other side of the world to be amazed! Travelvibe presents the 6 unusual marine animals to discover in France.
Marine wildlife remains a mystery to many of us to this day. When we think of dolphins, sharks, and other cetaceans, we often imagine traveling to the other side of the world to observe them or being forced to go to dedicated water parks.
However, it is not impossible to find yourself facing these animals in their natural environment. For this reason, Travelvibe presents its top 6 unusual marine animals that you can find (with a bit of patience and a lot of luck) along the French coast.
6 Unusual Marine Animals That You Can Discover in France
1. The Seal
Among the many unusual marine animals to discover in France, let’s start with the most present on French coasts: the seal. Indeed, whether it is the sea calf seal or the grey seal, it is estimated that several hundred of these mammals inhabit the Breton and Norman coasts each year.
Despite this high number, it is still tiny compared to the figures from British authorities, which list more than 350,000.
To observe them, nothing could be simpler. It is in the Bay of Somme and on the beaches of Normandy that the sea calf seal has taken up residence.
Sedentary, it takes advantage of the low temperatures of the Norman waters throughout the year. To be sure to see them, you will have to walk the beaches either 3 hours before low tide or 3 hours after the latter.
The grey seal, on the other hand, is becoming rarer. There are still places where you can see its spotted skin and cute whiskers, such as on the Breton coasts, especially the Molène archipelago and the Sept-Îles archipelago.
Observe Baby Seals
To have the chance to observe baby seals, it is in spring that you will have to go to the Normandy and Breton beaches. However, it is necessary to take great precautions.
Indeed, if you approach less than 300m, the seals could get scared and flee by abandoning their young…
2. The Basking Shark
Beware, this time it is the second-largest fish in the world that we present to you… The basking shark! Last seen on September 21, 2020, on the outskirts of the island of Ré, it is in the heart of Finistère that we most often see this specimen.
But do not panic if you had planned a walk in the Iroise Sea or the Glénan archipelago: the basking shark feeds only on plankton!
On a cruise or expedition, you can admire it without difficulty, throughout the year, and without fear. Between 1998 and 2017, more than 1,300 basking sharks were observed on the French coast.
3. The Twisted Penguin
Here is undoubtedly the favorite of the Travelvibe editorial team: the twisted penguin. To put it simply, this is the last species of penguin in the world…
Indeed, those usually called penguins and tordas are the last representatives of their species. In the 2000s, they were only a dozen. At the dawn of 2021, they are close to a hundred.
To see them, it is once again in Finistère that you will have to go, and more precisely on the rocky coasts of the Bay of Douarnenez. Tordas point their beaks at the end of summer, after breeding on land and settling until March.
The Twisted Penguin: A Seabird
Once in the water, on the outskirts of late summer until March, twisted penguins no longer put their paws back on land. They live, eat, drink and sleep in the sea throughout this period.
4. The Dolphin
Ah… The dolphin! Isn’t it one of the most iconic animals of our childhood? In the collective imagination, it is often the representation of kindness, gentleness, and adventure.
Many children (or big children) dream of watching them swim at full speed, jumping above the water…
For this, we strongly advise against water parks featuring dolphins, sea lions settling, and other orca shows.
Nothing better than observing these marine animals in the middle of nature, in their environment. Especially when it is so easy to watch it on the French coasts, as with the dolphin.
Indeed, whether off the coast of Brittany, the Côte d’Azur, or Corsica, dolphins are becoming more and more numerous every year on our coast.
Whether it’s the common dolphin or the bottlenose dolphin, you’ll be able to find them when the seas are calm.
To put all the chances on your side, we advise you to favor this type of sea trip between April and October, and more particularly during the summer.
5. The Sperm Whale
Unlike the marine animals mentioned above, the sperm whale is rarer on the French coast. Rare, but not invisible!
Indeed, the latter can be encountered both in the Bay of Biscay and in Mediterranean waters.
In August 2019, an exceptional phenomenon occurred off the coast of Nice... A school of sperm whales, no less than 11, had then taken up residence in the heart of the Mediterranean.
Regularly performing long breathing sequences on the water’s surface and sailing at a reduced speed, the mammals could be observed and filmed for several hours.
The Curse of Le Havre
In 2016, a sperm whale of 14 meters, and about 15 tons, ran aground in the nature reserve of the Seine estuary, near the port of Le Havre.
A year before, a 14-meter whale had already been discovered on the beaches of Le Havre after being hit by at least two boats…
6. The Atlantic Puffin
Back on the Breton coasts and in the Sept-Îles reserve to observe a rare bird: the Atlantic puffin.
Both emblematic of the Nordic countries and extremely rare in the rest of the world, the puffin is a round bird with a black cape, bright beak, and clumsy gait.
If the LPO backup center of Ile-Grande counts about a hundred pairs of puffins each summer, they were more than 8,000 in the mid-nineteenth century.
The cause? Global warming. With water temperatures rising several degrees in recent years, fish stocks are migrating, and puffins have to travel much further to feed, depleting them.
Besides, pairs of puffins produce only one egg per year between April and May, making breeding difficult. At the same time, you will have the best chance of meeting them in the Sept-Îles reserve.