For centuries, scientists, researchers and oceanographers have studied the origins of the Gouf of Capbreton, a deep-sea canyon just off the coast.
Several theories exist : is it a former valley of erosion from the ice age, a seismic fault linked to the forming of the Pyrenees or the movement of tectonic plates where the Iberian plate slides beneath the European continent ?
In any case, and despite many explorations, the Capbreton Gouf has kept its mystery. Not only because of its origins, but also due to the abundance of marine life within : sometimes extraordinary fish, shellfish and marine mammals be seen, which are extremely different from the local fauna and flora (giant calamari, chimaeras, sea angels…)
In 1875, the Marquis de Follin discovered a new form of benthic invertebrate, which he named bathysiphon cabritonnensis and in 1999, the GEFMA identified a mesoplodon densirostris – a beaked whale – which had not been seen in the area since 1850.
The Gouf has always attracted sailors and fishermen, for its remarkable form and its unfathomable depths make this huge submarine canyon a natural refuge in strong seas.
When bad weather comes in from the west, the sea remains calm in the canyon whilst it is rough in the shallower depths (under 50 metres) which border it to the north and south.
Furthermore, the bottom has firm mud allowing ships to drop anchor in 60 metres of water in high winds, with lots of chains.
But above all, it is the remarkable form of the canyon, one of the deepest in the world, with steep sides, plateaus, valleys and precipices, just off the coast, which make Capbreton an exceptional geological phenomenon.
2 cartes au 1/50 000 : © Bourillet J-F. (Coord.), Augris C., Cirac P., Mazé J.-P., Normand A., Loubrieu B., Crusson A., Gaudin M., Poirier D., Satra C. and Simplet L. (2007).
Le canyon de Capbreton. Cartes morpho-bathymétriques, Ifremer (Ed.) et Université Bordeaux 1 (Coed.).
Vue 3D : © Ifremer