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Conservation and births at Nausicaá

Preserving biodiversity is the focus of Nausicaá's mission.

Poisson arc en ciel, Nausicaá, Centre National de la Mer

Nausicaá is a unique biodiversity conservatory where several hundred offspring are born every year.

Furthermore, Nausicaá participates in European conservation programmes to save endangered species, in collaboration with the EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquariums).

Hundreds of births at Nausicaá every year

Penguins, fish, jellyfish and sharks: at Nausicaá, births happen all the time and are a source of satisfaction for the team of handlers. There are several hundred births at the aquarium every year.

In recent years, Nausicaá's team of handlers have been delighted to witness the unprecedented birth of zebra and leopard sharks, Starry smooth-hounds, epaulette sharks and eagle rays in the centre. These births, some of which are part of conservation programmes, are immense opportunities to observe and learn more about these species.

Latest births at Nausicaá

These births, some of which are part of conservation programmes, are great opportunities to observe and learn about these species.

Happening now

First births of undulate rays at Nausicaá

An endangered species in the wild.

Read more

All year round

Breeding and rearing

Nausicaá has become an expert in rearing and breeding to preserve the natural environment. The coral comes from our aquariological reserves, which is where the jellyfish are also born and grow up.

In addition, fish eggs are collected in the tanks to be incubated and hatched in the reserves.

Conservation at Nausicaá

Nausicaá is involved in many European conservation programmes aimed at preserving species. These programmes are defined within the EAZA, which is the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

These EEPs - Eaza Ex-situ programs - are launched after assessing the conservation needs of species in the same group (e.g. elasmobranchii, which include sharks and rays); It also determines how much conservation they will benefit from.

As such, while for some species present in EAZA member establishments, simply monitoring their populations (the Monitoring programmes) is sufficient, other species benefit from a more advanced programme - the EEP.

What is the objective of these conservation programmes?

The primary objective of these programmes is to maintain a genetically and demographically healthy population within partner institutions.

The coordinator of an EEP collects data on the species concerned. They are provided by partner aquariums and zoos. These data include: births, deaths, captures, tracking of animals through exchanges between institutions, and the number of males and females. They also include their origin, rearing methods, breeding techniques, reproductive and genetic status.

The coordinator recommends the transfer of juveniles from one structure to another so that genetic mixing can take place to avoid inbreeding.

juvénile bébé manchot

An outreach objective?

The exposure that aquariums and zoos afford to threatened species helps to raise public awareness of the actions that can be carried out in-situ with these same species, i.e. in the field by associations.

Bébés raies-aigles nées en 2022 à Nausicaá.
Baby eagle rays born in 2022 at Nausicaá.

In which conservation programmes is Nausicaá involved?

Nausicaá is coordinating three programmes. They concern:

  • the common guitarfish (Rhinobatos EANA),
  • the blackchin guitarfish (Glaucostegus cemiculus)
  • and the pelagic stingray (Pteroplatytrygon violacea), three species of rays incorporated in MON-P Monitoring Programmes.

Nausicaá is also involved in EEP programmes for the Californian sea lion (Zalophus californianus) and the African penguin (Spheniscus demersus).

raie guitare fouisseuse

Nausicaá is participating in the less involved ESB-European StudBook programme that tracks the stud of each animal within a population managed by the EAZA member institutions.

They concern the horn shark (Heterodontus francisci), the zebra shark (Stegostoma fasciatum), the sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus), the eagle ray (Aetobatus ocellatus), and the Klemmer's day gecko (Phelsuma klemmeri).

Knowing the genetic and demographic identity of the population is a valuable tool to monitor and manage each individual as part of a single population ex-situ.

The Atlantic nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum), the epaulette shark (Hemiscyllium ocellatum), the sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus), the starry smooth-hound (Mustelus asterias), the large spot stingray Potamotrygon falkneri, the ocellate river stingray (Potamotrygon motoro), the thornback skate Raja clavata, the spotted ray Raja montagui, the leopard shark Triakis semifasciata, and the nursehound catshark (Scyliorhinus stellaris) have joined even less restrictive MON-P or Monitoring programmes than the ESB.

The example of the blackchin guitarfish

The guitarfish is found in the Mediterranean and on the Atlantic coast of Africa. It is threatened by the destruction of its natural habitat in the Mediterranean (construction along coastal areas) and by overfishing.

The guitarfish has been included in Appendix II of CITES since 2019, which protects it from being fished for its fins.

Having blackchin guitarfish in an aquarium, as is the case in Nausicaá, improves scientific knowledge of these animals.

As such, in an aquarium, they can be observed over a long period, whereas in the natural environment, scientists can only observe them sporadically (sacrificial fishing, echography, marking with random recapture).

jeune raie guitare

Nausicaá Endowment Fund

To help preserve endangered species, the Nausicaá Endowment Fund provides financial support to associations working in the field by appealing for donations from the general public and committed businesses.