Flip with the grey seals in the Bay of Morlaix
An encounter with an unspoiled marine world
What a privilege to set out to meet the grey seals! Today the tide allows us to go snorkelling around their Trégor Archipelago. With Dominique as our guide, we lucky few are going to swim alongside these animals. Just a chosen few, with mask and snorkel, so as to preserve their underwater paradise. Here, undersea excursions are exceptional, eco-friendly and crammed with the thrills of being close to nature!
In Le Diben harbour, Dominique, Marine and Régis greet us with a cheery smile. After quickly trying on wet-suits, fins and masks, we’re kitted out from head to toe. Dominique gives the word go: we have to set off before the tide gets too low.La Bretonne, a valiant little launch from the isle of Batz that has been converted into a diving boat, carries us to the islands of the Plateau de La Méloine.
Head for the mammals!
Once we’re in the open sea, the captain hands over the tiller to Marine while he tells us about the residents of La Méloine. He knows them well: he is the one who does the count with the Bretagne Vivante Association. There are around a dozen grey seals that take advantage of the wealth of food to be found in the waters of the Bay.Weighing in at 300 kilos, these animals can certainly eat plenty! Their menu includes both seaweed and fish. As we approach the little islands, all eyes are carefully scanning the pebbles and the waves. Ronan is the first to spot a seal basking in the sun. A great start! Curved upwards like a banana, it is drying its fur. La Bretonne drops anchor. With it shallow draught it can safely move in close to the rocks without disturbing these marine mammals’ habitat. Then it will be up to us to use our fins for this very special excursion, taking care not to spoil the peace and quiet of their habitat.
Like fish in the sea!
Next job is to get our kit on: all those who swimming change on the covered deck. We look a funny sort of crew, dressed in neoprene and wearing fins on our feet. Marine shows us how to stop our masks from misting up. It may not be very elegant but it works! We sit on the edge of the boat and let ourselves slip into the waves. Brr! Our first impression is that it’s cold, but that soon passes, the 7mm thickness of the wet-suit is very welcome. So we’re perfectly comfortable as we snorkel towards the mammals in water that is unbelievably limpid.
A fairy tale scene
Patrick signals to us: a speckled muzzle emerges in front of us. What a brilliant sight! Smiles spread around our snorkel mouthpieces, but it’s not a good idea to shout with glee; that would scare the locals. We glide gently along the foreshore, between the rocks. Inquisitive little heads poke up out of the water. When they dive back down there’s no point in trying to follow them: grey seals are champions at swimming and holding their breath. They can easily stay at depth for 10 minutes. But there’s nothing to stop us watching them wheeling about under the surface. They play hide-and-seek with us by slipping beneath the kelp. A beautiful female swims backwards and forwards in front of our masks, just 3 metres away. She even goes so far as to turn round towards us; she looks as if she’s waving at us with her flipper. Ten-year-old Julie’s eyes almost pop out of her head with excitement and joy.
The grey seals are the stars of this superb excursion. But there are some other wonderful players in this natural theatre. Marine rises to the surface carrying a beautiful orange starfish. In the rays of sunlight the seaweed dances a fascinating ballet. Purple anemones form constellations on the rocks. Fish glisten as they slip back and forth above the sand: pollock and wrasse. With all the surprises and discoveries, we lose track of time. When all the snorkellers have climbed back on board, an hour and a half has passed. Géraldine, Eléonore, Roland, everyone is saying the same things: “Brilliant”, “Amazing”, “Wonderful”… Still reeling from all the excitement, we weigh anchor. On board, a tea or coffee warms us up as we make our way back. The local fauna are still putting on a show for us with gulls treating us to a display of aerobatics as they follow in our wake. Nature continues to amaze us with her beauty right up to the last minute!
Text: Annick André
Important information :
- To enjoy fully your snorkeling experience, it is necessary to be an experienced user of flippers, masks and snorkel
- This undersea excursion is organised for a minimum of 10 persons, participants must be 12 or older
- It is recommended to book in advance, you will be informed of the available dates when contacting Plougasnou Plongée
In order to protect the eco-system and the way of life of the grey seals in their environment, the number of participants and trips is limited. Dates of trips will be provided on request from Plougasnou Plongée
Prices 2017 :
Adults : 75 €
Family 4 and plus : 71 € per person
Group 10 to 15 : 67.50 €