How to watch marine mammals on the English Channel coast?

GECC encourages marine mammal enthusiasts to report their observations to them in order to take part in the protection of these animals, which are essential for biodiversity. (©GECC)

in Cotentin Group for the Study of Cetaceans (GECC) signed May 31 partnership agreement with the Department Sleevechosen as the winner of the contestcall for projects “Education for sustainable development 2021”. As part of this agreement, GECC encourages the public to report their observing marine mammals.

The association unfolded along the coast of the English Channel, Calvados and even from Seine Maritime from leaflets containing observation sheets fill out and send to them.

good binoculars

But if you are looking for volunteers, you still need to be able to do it. Moreover, some species are common very large area“Therefore, it is difficult to cross paths with them,” say GECC staff, who offer some advice.

“You should take a high point on the beach with good binoculars. Thus, the fins can be easily observed. »

Gerard MaugerFounder of GECC.
Gerard Mauger, Founder and Vice President of Research at GECC;  Jean-Marie Deant, president, and Delphine Eloy, coordinator and staff member of the association.
Gerard Mauger, Founder and Vice President of Research at GECC; Jean-Marie Deant, president, and Delphine Eloy, coordinator and staff member of the association. (© Romain LE BRI / La Presse de la Manche)

“This is a technique that has been used since Average age ”, although it was mainly about their capture.

If a cetaceans can be observed all along the coastsome places are privileged, especially on the west coast: the cliffs of Champeau, which offer a magnificent view of the bay of Mont Saint-Michel, the tip of the Ruy in Granville, Cape Carteret or the beach of Scioto, in pious.

Photographing a dolphin is like shooting skeet! »

On their inflatable boat, GECC volunteers regularly take to the sea to observe marine mammals, in particular bottlenose dolphins. The last outing dates from Saturday 14 August, when fifteen individuals were seen, including four small ones.
Watching these animals requires “long hours, even days at sea,” says Gerard Mauger. “It is a long labor of patience. “Moreover, then you need to sort photos, record GPS data, find people … “When we go out to sea for ten hours, you will not find us in the evening in a nightclub! »
If “interactions occur from time to time, they are more active”, then most observations are limited to fins. This is enough to recognize a person. Indeed, the back of their dorsal fin is very often subject to degradation: dolphins chew them during play or breeding. Thus, having reached a certain age, each individual has a fin with a unique, precise pattern.
But in order to photograph them, you have to be alert, standing firmly on both feet to be ready to activate the camera. “It is not visible, but there is a casing clock! jokes Gerard Mauger. “Photographing them is like shooting skeet! I shoot like I shoot a rifle,” he says. “In addition, we have a photographer who hung a rifle butt on the camera to be more responsive,” Jean-Marie Dréant adds. A real dedication that allows you to create great shots.

Responsible attitude

Going out to sea on a boat allows, of course, to see them closer, only now, the law forbids deliberate approach and disturbance of cetaceans,” the GECC founder warned.

“You can’t run into animals. When you meet a dolphin, you must maintain a constant speed. That’s why they don’t like jet skis or anything like that. »

Gerard Mauger

When it comes to large boats, this is not a problem, unless the boat abruptly crosses the path of a mammal. Dolphins can also be seen surf the waves caused by the ferrynot for the game, but “to save energy in motion,” emphasizes Delfina Eloi, coordinator and employee of the association.

Video: now on Actu
In many places you can watch dolphins.  But in the event of a meeting, a responsible attitude should be taken.
In many places you can watch dolphins. But in the event of a meeting, a responsible attitude should be taken. (©Jean-Marie DEAN / GECC)

On land, many seals rest on the shore after eating. Very important never go near them, or to keep the dog from moving towards them. “If the baby is stressed or if he retains the smell of a person, his mother runs the risk of not recognizing him and leaving him,” regrets Gerard Mauger.

Tracking App

Once these precious instructions are well understood, budding observers are encouraged to assist the GECC. The observation sheets can be found in the leaflets they distributed in Normandy. All relevant information should be sent to [email protected]; by phone 07 66 17 50 48 or by phone Obs application at sea.

This free app was developed by GECC and the Cybelle Planète (Mediterranean) association. It allows report sightings immediately individuals that are recorded and archived automatically.

Finally, GECC invites photograph groups of mammals“to get to know them well and to know if there are young ones.”

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