Behind closed doors: Nausicaa

NAUSICAA, the French National Sea Life Centre located in Boulogne-sur-Mer (France), is much more than just an aquarium.
It is a unique centre for discovery of the marine environment, in a fun, educational and scientific way, largely focusing on the relationship between mankind and the ocean, whilst raising public awareness of the resources at stake and the challenges ahead.

A chat with…

Dominique Mallevoy, Aquariologist at Nausicaá Sea Life Centre

What is your role at Nausicaá?

Well, I am lucky enough to have a very versatile and hands-on role at Nausicaá.
My daily missions include:

  • Managing the daily life of the Aquariology department
  • Making sure everything related to the animals in the centre, runs smoothly
  • Managing a team of 35 people, caretakers, trainers, etc.
  • Overseeing the feeding, breeding and training of the animals
  • Overseeing pedagogical and technical schedules
  • And many more exciting ‘tasks’ on my to-do list.

When did Nausicaá close due to Covid-19?

The government officially announced the national lockdown on March 17. However, for safety reasons, the Nausicaá management team decided to close to the public, the weekend before, on Saturday 14 March.

With the Covid-19 crisis spreading and the government restrictions being announced, how did your team adapt to the situation?

Before the lockdown was officially announced, we drastically limited the number of visitors per day, for safety reasons. We created a crisis task force group, to anticipate all possible scenarios and get everything prepared for the worst. We put in place a rotating schedule for the staff, actively worked on informing the general public on the situation here at the centre and assessed all the logistical/technical aspects. We were ready to close our doors just a couple of days before the general confinement was announced. Throughout this whole process, our main objective was the safety of the general public, our employees and of course, the animals’ living in Nausicaá. It was absolutely key to ensure the lives and daily routines of the inhabitants of Nausicaá remained undisrupted. It is a 24/7 mission – and passion.

Your favourite task on your to-do list?

Diving in the big tank, surrounded by sharks, hundreds of fish and the large manta ray. It’s magical, a real pleasure every time I have the chance to do so.